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Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Oh wow, this thread is every bit as amazing as everyone made it sound. Totally worth dropping three others to catch up on this one instead. Immensely frustrating reading prompts from weeks ago that I immediately came up with a great idea but too bad old news now.

I want in, but I feel so much pity for the poor judges who have to read all these entries every week when most of them are terrible. Should I care about that?


Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

OK, I'm in.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

That Which Is Seen (971 words)

A well-dressed man drunkenly stumbled onto the street. Prosecutor John Stevens had been in a good mood all day. He'd aced every single conviction from the latest drug case, guaranteeing a huge string of dealers would be stuck in prison for, what was the cumulative total? A thousand years? At the office the reaction was tremendous. He'd spent hours hitting up every bar in town with his co-workers because why not? His inevitable promotion was assured. Judge John Stevens, they'd be saying soon enough. People were looking at him.

There was only one thing sullying his mood. The pleas for mercy. The complaints about the harshness of the sentences. Stevens snorted. So they had families, so what? Even the lowest, basest scum on the planet had people who cared. Stevens had succeeded in putting bad people away. Stevens had bulked up his own career. Stevens was well-liked. He could have died happy in this moment. Met with the vengeful spirits of the victims. Stevens always liked to think that ghosts were the vengeful sort.

It was in this state of mind that Stevens suddenly found himself annoyed by a beggar, sitting on on the sidewalk mumbling to himself while counting the same stack of coins over and over again.

"You get outta here," Stevens slurred. "Too good for the likes of you."

The beggar suddenly stopped, and turned to Stevens, creaking his head at an oblique angle. This was a very slow process and Stevens squinted, agitated.

"You can see me?" said the beggar.

"Yeah," Stevens said, further annoyed, "now get out."

Stevens had, at this point, plenty of friends on the force, and figured nobody would mind a random beggar with a busted lip, so he took a swing. But the disheveled man had completely disappeared. Stevens tried to look around, only to find that he couldn't move. His entire body suddenly felt heavy.

"You can see me," a voice purred, ever so slightly blowing the hairs on Stevens' neck. "I thought this day would never come."

"...the gently caress...are you..." Stevens said, forcing himself to speak through the paralysis. But he immediately realized his defiant words were a mistake- they only emphasized how weak and helpless Stevens was compared to the malignant presence. The beggar took his time walking in front of Stevens, the slanted head and wide crooked smile ever expanding, until finally, the face was so long Stevens couldn't see around it. Just a wide mass of hideous wrinkled flesh shaped like a kite.

"An excellent question!" the beggar said, his voice now undulating randomly between octaves. "It must have been...decades perhaps? I've been sitting there so long, but nobody ever saw me. Sometimes there was money. Or maybe food? Did I eat? Or sleep? Hard to say...time loses all meaning when there's nothing to live for. Just counting the money, day in, day in the old times."

The beggar breathed in through his now giant nose, and Stevens felt repulsed. Even as he couldn't move, the very dirt came off of Stevens' skin, the hairs swayed in the direction of the beggar's nostrils, and Steven could feel the inerrantly human smell of this increasingly hideous, disgusting man.

"I was successful once," the beggar said. "Then I wasn't. What happened? I remember meeting a crazy woman, somewhere. I didn't pay attention to her rambling. Just pushed her around. After that it was just this...fear, should I say? You know that feeling now, I take it?"

Stevens tried to open his mouth in response, but this was a mistake. It just stood there, frozen open, and he could feel the spit draining from his mouth into the face of that...thing. What was worse, his sensations were all slowed down. A second in this gaping vortex felt like an hour. Stevens was in a panic. Even if he could move he didn't dare try.

"I do remember what she did at the end. I remember her crying she would finally be free now."

The beggar opened his mouth wide. Stevens saw an apparently infinite row of teeth, but the proportions were ruined. They looked too wide, the centers too grossly formed. The grime, the plaque, whatever it was, called out to him, and Stevens soon felt that he would be consumed.

But then just as suddenly the mouth closed again and the beggar grabbed Stevens in a warm embrace. Forcefully, the beggar pressed his lips against Stevens', and it was in that moment that Stevens suddenly realized he had not blinked the entire time he had been frozen. His dry eyes crackled and baked from the lack of moisture, and he only noticed that pain here because his lips, no, the rest of his body was screaming for release, begging to no longer be wetly touched.

The beggar pulled away, his face apparently back to normal, a serene smile on his face. Stevens collapsed to the ground, and the beggar whispered.

"You'll get your wish."


It was some time before Judge John Stevens remembered this little adventure. At the time he expunged the event from his memory, didn't even tell his therapist. She already thought he was gay anyway. Probably just a bad cocktail.

But now in the nursing home, he had nothing left. Oh yes, there was his title, the sense of justice. Ungrateful friends. Ungrateful children. They never looked at him. Was he dead yet? It was difficult to tell when Stevens couldn't remember eating or sleeping.

Then Stevens remembered his encounter with the beggar. And then old decrepit Stevens, maybe a senile old man, or maybe a ghost, realized how he could escape. And so he stared at the door, a wide smile brimming from ear to ear, waiting for someone who could see him. Once that day arrived, Steven would have his revenge.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Aw, of course my story was terrible. I have no idea how to accurately gauge the quality of my own work. I can't bear to post crits now, my opinion's probably worthless. Don't bother hurrying to give me any in-depth tear-downs. Now that the idea's been flippantly described I think I have a pretty good idea why it was so hated.

In again for this week.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Almost Forgotten
538 words

Joshua and Abe had been taking shots for three rounds before the subject of Alexa Korsakoff had come up. Abe broached the subject with the usual lack of elegance he’d demonstrated in their twenty year professional relationship.

“To Alexa,” he said, holding his shot glass in a mock toast, “the unsung hero of our careers”.

Joshua tried for several seconds to remember who Alexa was, but finally gave up.


“You know, the woman we sent away in the light speed ship.”

Ah, thought Joshua, that Alexa! This aspect of the experiment was all too easy to forget. Joshua and Abe were now leading experts in the field of faster than light travel, and a lot of their research was built on the foundation of that experiment, which had required direct human input to succeed.

“I wonder how she’s doing right now,” Joshua said.

“What are you talking about?” said Abe. “She’s in the spaceship. Where else would she be?”

From Alexa’s point of view the experiment would only take a few years, but to everyone else on Earth she’d be gone for several thousand- the unavoidable effect of the theory of relativity. Data was still coming back, albeit at an increasingly spaced out rate, so it was certain she was still alive.

“Yeah, but how’s she doing?” said Joshua. “Maybe she’s lonely by now.”

“I doubt it,” said Abe. “We ran a lot of tests. Psychological, physical, whatever- she passed with flying colors. If ever there was a person who wanted to be stuck in a tiny space and outlive every human on Earth, it was Alexa Korsakoff.”

“People change,” said Joshua.

“Whatever,” said Abe rolling his eyes.

Joshua knew better than to get sentimental with Abe, so he changed the subject. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Alexa. It just seemed so unfair. She went through the trauma, they got all the credit. And Joshua could barely be troubled to remember the woman’s name, let alone the kind of person she was.

He became obsessed with trying to send her a personal message, to let her know that she wasn’t alone. That people on Earth were rooting for her. This wasn’t true of course- if one of the lead project scientists couldn’t remember Alexa, of course no one in the hoi polloi would either.

But she didn’t know that. Joshua remembered all the reassurance he received from people who told him little encouraging lies, how this had always helped him. These were the thoughts circling his mind when he snuck into the lab one night, and fired off a simple message-

“We’re all rooting for you Alexa! You can do it!”

Pleased with himself, Joshua banished Alexa from his mind. He died some time afterwards having never again thought of the woman.


Several hundred years later Alexa’s reply arrived. The experiment had long since lost funding, and the communication gaps had grown so large that no one had any idea who Alexa was. Her message from deep space prompted panic- some thought this was the herald of an alien invasion. But in the end, the authorities decided to accept Alexa's message in the same spirit it was offered.

“What difference does it make?”

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

I'd actually prefer doing crits to writing. But I can't imagine anyone would want crits from someone who's managed to get dishonorable mentions in two Thunderdomes out of two entered.

In again anyway. Writing prose is still fun even if I'm bad at it.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

QuoProQuid posted:

I did line by line critiques for RunningIntoWalls, Masonity, Some Guy TT, and That Old Ganon for Week #84: Who You Gonna Call? but forgot to post them earlier.

Well, if someone went to the trouble of giving me a line-by-line critique I didn't ask for, I have to at least to try and respond in kind. Luckily Rhino's post is right there so I doubt this will poo poo up the thread too much.

Lead out in cuffs posted:

A story about a little boy who's murdered by some random guys for money and comes back to haunt his mom until she commits suicide.

I actually had trouble reading this the first time, because I assumed there was something supernatural going on with the guys who killed Hans. Like, either they were ghosts or were doing some kind of ghostly ritual because why else would they kill him in such an apparently pointless way. Now, granted, part of this was just my being confused why you weren't following the prompt, but either way this little point nagged at me for the rest of the story and every subsequent reread, to the point I had trouble paying attention to the strengths of the piece. It felt like you were just using this as a device to turn Hans into a ghost, and that set me off on the wrong foot.

Chairchucker posted:

A guy tries to buy a burger for a ghost at a restaurant but is rebuffed because ghost racism.

This piece doesn't go far enough in absurdity. I'm assuming that's what you're going for anyway- this premise is too silly to work as anything except a comedy piece. And yet there's so many unanswered questions. Why can ghosts eat hamburgers? Did the restaurant have a no ghosts sign? Was the waiter being racist or is the restaurant simply not equipped to handle the culinary needs of ghosts? You used less than half the words you could have. If you want to write something outrageous just take it all the way. Practically any worldbuilding here would be inherently funny, because I have no idea what the answers to those questions would be yet I still was wondering them.

Nethilia posted:

A little girl buys a doll but the ghost owns the doll so the ghost tries to kill her. Luckily her big mean sis destroys the doll and is grounded.

Why did Katy want the doll in the first place? I'm assuming this is a modern story- kids don't play with dolls much these days, especially not creepy old ones, so the question of why Katy wanted a doll is a significant one. To the extent of her character, I mean. We don't really know anything about her except that she's an annoying younger sister. She spends almost the entire story being victimized by the ghost. I'm not expecting an in-depth explanation, given that the story's told from Ginger's point of view, but all we get about Katy's character is the Princess Waterbean anecdote, and that has nothing to do thematically with anything else that happens. If Katy likes to play pretend, give us more than that. How does she play pretend any differently than any other six year old girl?

docbeard posted:

A rebellious young woman decides to leave her home to escape an arranged marriage, is quickly murdered by the Undying Man, spends a moment figuring out that she's a ghost, then prepares a revenge scheme.

That description was a mouthful, and it doesn't even sound like a whole story. It sounds like the second chapter to a longer story about revenge, a complicated post-apocalyptic world, and the Undying Man. Ela doesn't even feel like the only character of significance here. Chapter three would be about somebody else that the Undying Man has managed to piss off somehow. There's so much going on in the margins of this story that the format itself just feels terribly restricting. If this is part of a broader narrative you're playing with in your head that you want to go long-form, well, mission accomplished, you got your worldbuilding down correctly and were able to pull off quality writing even in an ill-suited format. But if you really were just trying to write a short story you should be less ambitious with your concepts. There's only so much you can cram into a thousand words.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

The worst case scenario in Thunderdome is that you get a losertar. And right now you have a stupid newbie avatar. If I were you I'd try to lose on purpose to get a non dumb avatar without having to pay five dollars.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Oh no I made a bad joke guess better stop posting forever or everyone will hate me.

(this is what you sound like RunningIntoWalls seriously just keep trying)

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

If you really want to read a lot of crits just click on the question marks under the avatar of whoever your favorite judge is. This can also be a good sneaky way of trying to pander to judges by figuring out what they liked in the past. At least it would be if I hadn't just written that.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Little Benny Learns His Lesson (382 words)
Flash Rule: Chatty motherfucker chats too much, gets what's coming to him.

March 15th

A new girl came to school today and her name was Bea that’s a dumb name and she was wearing yellow and black stripes and those are dumb colors so I said she was Bea the B and it was funny because she looks like a bee buzz buzz but also it’s like I said she was a b-word and it was funny and everybody laughed. I am smart. But then at recess she chased me with a pen and said buzz buzz I’m gonna sting you and the pen hurt and everybody laughed but it wasn’t funny it was dumb and I hate Bea she is dumb.

April 8th

There were thunderstorms last night and I hate thunderstorms they are dumb I didn’t want to go to school today but mom made me. I was mad and I didn’t want to do anything but Claude made me come out at recess to look at Bea and I didn’t want to look at Bea she is dumb and I don’t care but he said it was going to be great and he dragged me Claude is dumb too. There were lots of kids and Bea’s friend said start and then Bea fell asleep and we touched and poked her and she wouldn’t wake up and then Mrs. Speare came and made us go away and I hate Mrs. Speare she is mean.

April 11th

I made a note from cut up magazines like in cartoons and sent it to Bea then I met her after school and she said do you like me and giggled and started poking me with the pen and saying buzz buzz and I said no I hate you go away but I got scared and fell down and said please please I’ll like you but help me and I’ll do whatever you want please help me and then she turned all red and said OK and then we went to her house and Bea’s mom is nice she is sleepy.

May 1st

There were thunderstorms all week but I didn’t care because Bea showed me how to sleep fast but I’ll never be as good as Bea she’s the best at sleeping fast Bea’s amazing and when I grow up I want to marry her.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

HopperUK posted:

:siren: SIGN-UPS ARE CLOSED :siren:

gently caress! I only just got back after a bunch of stupid delays! I knew I should have signed up two days ago!

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

I'm in thanks for the reprieve.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

sebmojo posted:

Pipe up if I haven't done you and you want a crit on your story from last week.

I'm up for that, given that all I know right now is that it was less bad than the previous two and I insisted on entering again this week even though I had an excuse.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

For The Glory of God
1174 Words

It had been three years since the Fourth Crusade, and Charles was bored out of his mind. The military campaign had not actually accomplished much of anything, and Charles was one of the few fortunate Templars to have survived multiple direct military engagements. He had thought then that he would finally have the chance to die for something meaningful, but instead Charles merely returned to his estate in southern France upon the Crusade's conclusion.

Some fleeting purpose appeared when orders came from the Pope that he was to protect Pierre de Castelnau from the Cathars. It was an idiotic instruction to be sure- the Cathars were pacifist and no danger to anyone. Still, the Pope had long tried to reconcile the Cathars with the rest of the Church peacefully. Perhaps these instruction were intended merely for the benefit of appearances.

In any case, at least now Charles had an excuse to do something almost interesting for a change. He ordered his retainers to bring him a representative from the Cathars. They returned with a raggedy old man, who sat on the opposite side of Charles' very classy table. Charles had trouble suppressing his contempt. He had expected a man with some appreciation of finery.

"I need your word," said Charles, "that no harm will come to Pierre de Castelnau."

"Why do you ask this now, my lord?" the old man said. "He has been in our midst for months. He prays every morning at the blessed fountain near the two rivers, and no harm has come to him."

The retainers hiked up their weapons. This was what Charles despised the most about heretics. They had no sense of respect or restraint. The only required answer was a simple "yes", and this pompous old man was asking rude questions. Charles put up his hand and the retainers stood down.

"Is this how you speak to all Templars?"

"Nay, my lord," said the old man. "Only those who are ignorant of our faith."

"I know all about your faith," Charles sneered. "No meat, no sex, no leaders, no purpose."

"It is as you say, my lord," replied the old man. "But what have these principles brought you in life? You have no desire to speak to me, and yet hear you are, listening to my foul words."

"I don't know what I was expecting," Charles said. "Perhaps a divine message from an angel?"

"But I am an angel, my lord."

Charles cocked an eyebrow, and looked to the retainers on either side. They dared show no indication that they noticed or cared about the old man's words.

"I am an angel, as are you, as are your retainers, as is the Pope in Rome, as is Pierre de Castelnau," he continued. "Our presence in the material world is God's punishment for our rebellion against heaven. Only by rejecting this place can we accept our lord and savior Jesus Christ into our hearts. This world is commanded by Satan, who leads us into temptations, and we fight against one another, having no one true lord and God to fight against. We are all miserable, but at least we Cathars will have hope in the thereafter. As can you."

Charles had heard enough. He gave another flick of his wrist, and the retainers were immediately upon the old man, dragging him away to the torture room. Once the heretic had repented of his beliefs, Charles would execute the man personally. It would not be a satisfying day, but at least it would be something.


That night, Charles found himself wandering outside by himself far from home. The old man's heresy had proved surprisingly troublesome. What if Charles were, in fact, an angel? It would explain an awful lot. He had joined the Templars out of boredom. He had participated in four Crusades now, and while that dulled his senses for awhile, there would inevitably be another break in the action, and Charles was once more left stirring in boredom. A fallen angel would fight anyone, provided God was not there. And was that not exactly what Charles was doing, even if he was acting under orders from the Church?

Charles was so lost in his thoughts he did not notice the approach of the highwayman. He was a very large, uncouth figure wielding a club. Charles could feel that much even though he could not see the man in the dead of night.

"Your money or your life."

In an instant, Charles had unsheathed his knife and slashed the highwayman's right arm. He screamed in pain and dropped his club. Charles made another swift movement and kicked the man's legs out. He crushed the man's left foot and twisted the brute's shoulder. Then, grabbing the thug's very own club, Charles destroyed the man's kneecaps.

Normally at this point Charles would have taken his knife to the attacker's throat and put an end to the man's misery. But he was mesmerized by the highwayman's guttural shouts, and his feeble efforts to escape.

"What are you doing, you poor fool?" said Charles. He trampled upon the man's mangled limbs, and the screams intensified. "If you survive this encounter you'll just live as a cripple. But here, being killed by a Templar? You'll receive a Christian burial and a Christian sacrament. Much better than whatever miserable end you would have come to sooner or later."

Yet in spite of these words of comfort, the crushed man kept trying to flee, looking at Charles with an impression of sheer terror. Charles was fascinated by this attitude. It was one he had seen so many times in the Crusades. Charles had always thought that it was because his victims knew they were damned. But now he wondered whether they were truly all angels, completely terrified at the prospect of reuniting with God Almighty, so much so that they would fight any fight rather than concede that the material world was not what Satan had promised them.

Charles shook his head violently and quickly sliced the highwayman's throat. This religious heresy had gone too far. He should have let the retainers murder the old man right at the start. This was the devil's work, and Charles needed guidance. He resolved to sit in quiet contemplation, to lie prostrate before God until he received an answer to put an end to all these heretical doubts.


At sunrise, Charles' eyes opened, and he smiled with the glory of God in the highest. He stood up and, laughing, spread his wings, and flew down to the blessed fountain. Pierre de Castelnau would be there, and Charles would make his knife sing with the adulation of the man's blood. In this way Charles would begin another glorious Crusade, once more bring triumph to the name of the Almighty, and bring proof to the Cathar lie that there was nothing under the sun but the self-hating servants of Satan, who would fight each other in lieu of a heavenly host.

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at 20:07 on Apr 6, 2014

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Goddamnit I only changed the word count.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Got your crits here folks. Probably have the rest of them done by this time tomorrow.


Turtlicious posted:

Some hambeast on E/N lives like a total goon but gives good advice. He helps some suicidal girl not commit suicide.

There's nothing wrong with writing a story about goons, but if you're going to make this much of an effort to establish that the guy is living a terrible life you have to acknowledge it as something aside from background noise. The guy's a fool I guess because we know living like a goon is bad, but there's no apparent negative consequences for his actions. In theory the suicidal girl would help him reevaluate or learn something, or he could not learn something and that would be the point. But as is your story is pointless. Pandering is fine- but you have to back it up somehow.

Sir Azrael posted:

An army shows up at a city for reconquest, but the leaders are big babies so they ditched town and left the fool in charge. The fool does a bunch of kung fu slapstick and makes the general back off.

I find it hard to believe that the general would just give up after being humiliated that badly in front of all of his troops. You need a better set-up for the ending- something that at least makes surrendering to the fool plausible, like a secondary motive indicating he didn't really care about the city in the first place but possibly the weenies who ditched. Now, that being written, your comedic style is very strong here. I can easily visualize the fool giving Theogren a run for his money, and that makes for some pretty great slapstick. I smiled at the absurdity of the situation while still recognizing the strong improbability, so to that extent you succeeded pretty well.

ZorajitZorajit posted:

Some corporate chick is an evil cartoonish rear end in a top hat, wants to pollute the ocean or something, hire political action committees, and she’s already done this stuff but there’s a plot somehow I don’t have any idea.

Your main character is so blatantly evil the story turns into self-parody. Not funny self-parody. You sprinkle all these real life references in there to make it seem like this could be an actual person but it just doesn’t work. This person’s a crazy idiot with half-baked ideas that only work because other people do all the work and she just gesticulates wildly at the Sheik, who’s scared because plutonium or something, I really don’t know. If your whole story is going to be powered by irrelevant McGuffins…actually just don’t do that unless you’re trying to write a comedy. Don’t begrudge the point. It just calls attention to how poorly constructed the whole package is. It took me way too long to even figure out your character was a woman.

CommissarMega posted:

A fool talks about what it’s like being a fool.

This isn’t even a story. This is just a bunch of blank blathering on about the basics of the wise fool trope. Tropes by themselves are crap. They don’t mean anything. They have to be spun together into something specific or the whole exercise of reading is completely meaningless. I hated the pointless rambling of the fool, but for awhile I at least thought this was going to turn in to some kind of twist ending about how the fool was there all along and just telling his own story in an uninteresting roundabout way. But you even managed to mess that up. If you want to do aloof comedy, there has to be a clear story we can see behind the lines.

Schneider Heim posted:

Two girls are learning magic at school. One is snobby and smart while the other is pretty dumb. They become friends when the dumb one does a favor for the smart one.

I like your opening. I very quickly got who these characters were, what they were doing, and what the stakes were. Then I got confused by your worldbuilding. Is this a high school? A boarding school? They take nonmagical kids but don’t give them any kind of special tutoring? These questions might sound irrelevant, but when the entire dramatic impetus of your story is on the ability of these two girls to use magic, we need some sense of scale. Your story’s clichéd enough that these flaws really stick out- you need an excellent concept in order to make these technical questions irrelevant, and yours just wasn’t that inherently amazing.

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Some idiot convict goes on about how much he hates Horace Greene. Then we get a twist ending!

Well it’s not that big a twist, given that the prompt was wise fool (although you forgot the citrus). But it’s still well done. You’ve got a clear believable voice of a guy who sounds dumb even if he’s not. The brevity of your story works well to keep the ending surprising enough, since I didn’t have time to think the plot over in that much detail. The story's mainly good for an oh snap moment, which isn't a lot, but it's at least well done.

Thalamas posted:

Cat is a selfish animal who decides to make the world better by making everyone else selfish too, starting with Dog. Dog thinks this is dumb, and helps the other animals they meet instead of dicking them over.

Cat’s motivation doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t need to because this is a fable meant to establish a clear moral point. The diction is a tad advanced- when writing this kind of story you need to bear in mind that the reader is going to be a small child. And even from an adult perspective it’s all just a little long-winded- you could have kept out the part with Beaver and the flow would have worked better. Still, for what it is, this was a fairly decent effort.

God Over Djinn posted:

A teacher observes that a madwoman curses the king which is bad. But the king (or more specifically the government) really is terrible so the teacher feels bad about lying for the sake of the regime.

So the setting is a monarchy where criticizing the king is verboten, but they have baking soda and toothpaste. Also rape is apparently a regular enough thing that schoolchildren watch it happen in the street. The cadence and word choice is weird here, because they make the story seem light-hearted even though it sounds like this is happening in Nazi Germany. Either make this an old style fable about a kingdom or a modern grimdark piece about the suppression of truth. Trying to do both at once is just confusing.

Whalley posted:

Some snobby programmer makes the most artistically deep video game ever but even God himself is a total fratboy who loves the game solely for its car smashing action. Luckily God is a cool guy who solves the problem in a way only a goon can appreciate.

Now this is how you pander. The narrator is a pretentious video game loving twat who literally cannot be satisfied even by praise from God himself. I really like the idea of God as a well-meaning fratboy, and it’s an especially novel take on the wise fool concept, which mostly focused on the fool part this week. The ending’s especially appropriate- it solves the narrator’s problem in a way that does not advance his character, yet at the same time is an all too appropriate statement on why weren’t not supposed to like him in the first place. Well done.

tenniseveryone posted:

Bryan, Lou, Scott, and Vincent all go hunting for meat to sell to eskimos. Then something bad happens.

I had to read this story several times to figure out how many characters were in it, since even though you give them names they barely have any personality between them. The only particularly clear story detail is that they’re hunting some indeterminate animal (why didn’t you name it?) to sell to eskimos. By the way, you should be using Inuit. Even in context the way you use the word makes it sound like a slur but this is never addressed in the story. Still, even a negative character detail is better than the vagueness you leave us with. And for goodness sake, use some indentation breaks to denote time! The story goes on long enough that people go to sleep and wake up, but the way it’s organized makes it look like it all took place in a single breath.

Nethilia posted:

This outsider boy sees an outsider girl at school, tells her she’s being made fun of, then he hates her, then she goes to a new school.

I didn’t hate this story, but I didn’t like it as much as the other judges did either. We get lots of detail about Laureline but relatively little about Jacob, which troubled me since the whole thing was from his point of view and the catharsis at the end is his reaction. Regardless, your prose here is capable and your narrative beats are fairly distinct, albeit well-worn. Using them with this particular prompt was a relatively original idea though, and given the quality of this week’s entries it was enough to send you to the top.

nickmeister posted:

A rock fruit farmer is hated by everyone, because rock fruits are bad. But everyone else’s fruit is even worse because…uh…

Unless rock fruit somehow makes bananas and oranges toxic just by being in nearby proximity, I’m at a loss as to what even happened in this story. So Pit is a fool because he insists on harvesting rock fruit for no reason, whereas he is wise because..? Yeah, I really have no idea what you were even trying to do here. Unless this is some sort of elaborate rock fruit in-joke that I’ve never heard of before. In which case you should be ashamed for submitting something so oblique.

The News at 5 posted:

Two guys sell TV infomercial junk. One of them gets fed up and quits.

Another story where I had difficulty telling the two characters apart- not because they were similar, but because they lacked particularly unique personality traits. At first I thought Bill was the snarky guy, since he paid too much for the smile…oh, I get it. Because he got surgery, not because he was metaphorically paying for it. Do you see how that’s a bit of an awkward metaphor in this situation? Additionally, while I know Timmy hates his life, I don’t know why. The guy’s just being a dick on camera and I guess I’m supposed to sympathize because I hate infomercials too? I don’t really. That’s a pretty poor assumption to make of your reader, so try to do a better job building up the expectation.

Kalyco posted:

A girl is in danger of flunking out of college, but there’s this fox who’s being a dick to her about all this magical stuff that I guess she’s doing as an extracurricular activity.

That’s my guess for what your story’s about anyway. I wasn’t sure whether all the weird magical stuff was supposed to be real or just in Jess’s imagination. And it doesn’t actually matter anyway. So she can’t focus when some douchebag fox is making fun of her during evaluation, or she’s thinking about dumb fantasy world stuff. So what. Everybody hates that crap. What Jess needs is some kind of defining personality trait aside from “is annoyed by supernatural stuff”. Without that it's impossible to relate to anything that happens.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Final round of crits.

crabrock posted:

This guy alienates everyone by trying to plant a money tree. But the joke’s on them, money trees are real.

I really liked how you were able to set Tom up. The guy’s a loon, obviously, for trying to plant money trees in the first place, but when his ship comes in he’s smart enough to realize that everybody still thinks he’s crazy. They just want to be nice to him because he’s rich. He is, in fact, exactly the kind of person who would rant about liberals, making him another good example of someone even your reader will readily acknowledge as a fool even as he's obviously doing something right. Alex is not as well thought-out. He works as the kid who Tom likes enough to put in the will, but the story suffers from making him the perspective character at the end because we just don’t know the guy that well. I would have suggested keeping the prose more abstract after Tom dies, but aside from this flaw the writing’s fairly good.

That Old Ganon posted:

A woman fights a monster, or maybe it’s the other way around, because a fool told her to. I’m assuming because this is a video game, since there’s no other context.

Put your main character’s name in the first sentence. Don’t use a pronoun. Ugh, I can’t believe I actually had to specifically point that out. Your fundamentals are pretty awful too. The fool serves no purpose whatsoever that I can see- he tells Nuri to take the quest, a task that could have been accomplished by literally anyone. This story is just standard fantasy dreck with no redeeming qualities at all. I don’t understand what’s going on in the fight, I don’t understand what Nuri’s relationship is with the fool, and that’s all that’s here. Work on motivation. And write your stories in chronological order. I would have at least had a clue what was happening if you’d started out with the fool and then did the fight. Don’t expect your reader to care about a brawl between two characters who don’t even have names yet.

RunningIntoWalls posted:

A gang of…kids? Adults? Whatever, they’ve made some sort of sun cult in the modern day. Except they have a king, so I guess it’s more like a hardcore LARP than an actual religion.

Your prose is unnecessarily confusing here. I’m sure you were going for “oh it looks medieval but plot twist it’s the modern day!” but the execution just makes the concept look stilted and weird. How is the sun cult supposed to make life easier for any of these people? Where are they eat? And how does a guy end up becoming the leader of a modern day LARP cult? That sounds like an interesting story. Write that story instead of some boring stuff about friendship between characters we know nothing about. And again, if your character is introduced in the first paragraph, name them in the first paragraph! Why did I have to write that advice multiple times this week!

Jonked posted:

Some bartender hates bums, who are stinky and annoying. He makes a drink for an antlermonger in the hopes that the guy will go away, but plot twist, the bum uses his crazy foolishness to improve business for the bartender.

The concept is good here- you have a genuine modern day fool, in that bums are commonly looked down on and thought as stupid. Antler bum does snooker me in for a bit, at least long enough that I didn’t realize what he was doing right away. Your narrator is a bit of a dick, though. I can’t really get too excited about his business going on the up-and-up, since his only personality traits are that he dislikes bums and chain bars. Also, he doesn’t sound like an old guy at all, even though the text makes him seem semi-retired. Don’t use exposition to tell us the bar is in trouble. Use smaller stories within the bigger story to build up characterization. That’s stories, not random events, because whatever your payoff was supposed to be with the bum giving that one guy the antlers at the end, I didn’t see it.

leekster posted:

An old guy goes to a boat somewhere and lies down, because he wants to commit suicide or something. Maybe he got that idea later and just wanted to take a nap at first.

Have you ever watched an old person climb into a boat and then start sinking? I haven’t either but I’m guessing it’s about as entertaining as it sounds, and that’s all your story is. An old guy gets in a boat that sinks. There’s no context for any of this except that he’s old. If you want this kind of story to have any emotional resonance at all you need to at least toss a flashback in there or something, because right now I’m at a complete loss as to what your story is even supposed to be about. Yeah, he hates being old. So does everyone. What’s the difference between him and every other old bum that’s trying to take a nap in a boat?

docbeard posted:

It turns out that the serpent didn’t trick Adam and Even into eating the forbidden fruit because he was a dick. Satan was just really annoyed at the cherub who was always saying dumb stuff.

Oh wait, no, that was me. You somehow managed to make Satan the sympathetic character in the story of Adam and Eve without actually giving him any sympathetic character traits. This was accomplished through the cherub, who talks in a way that’s supposed to sound wise and foolish but just comes off as that annoying kid with a speech impediment from grade school who wants to be your friend but can’t shut up long enough for you to want to tolerate him. This might have worked except that the story is structured like we’re supposed to think the cherub sure got one in over the serpent. And maybe he did, but given that your ending states pretty explicitly that no one actually learning anything from what happened, it’s incredibly difficult to care.

Bushido Brown posted:

In the modern day, a cynical investigator is trying to find the source of the latest locust plague by investigating haruspexes. He thinks this bum is crazy like all the others but plot twist, this bum really is a divine prophet.

You can’t toss a word like haruspex into your story and expect that anyone will know what that means. Incidentally, some entrail-reading action would have been a vast improvement over what we get here. The bum is a divine prophet? Really? In the first place we could see that coming from a mile anyway. In the second place a reasonable scientific explanation is given right there in the story so there’s no reason for this plot twist to show up except for genre convention. An in the third place we know nothing about the narrator or the bum for the revelation to actually mean anything. You take an interesting idea in the most boring possible direction and don’t even back it up with halfway interesting prose. If you don’t have any decent ideas at least try to do it with style. Try to get a smile out of your judges and maybe they won’t savage you so much.

Kaishai posted:

A boy has lived his life in a lemon grove so everybody hates him. Also chicks really hate guys who spend all their time hanging out in lemon groves, and it’s apparently a princely duty to personally hunt down rogue lemon tree bandits.

You got the honorable mention on the strength of your prose. Try as I might I can think of no way to describe what happens in your story that doesn’t sound totally ridiculous. Why is it so important that Limonadé find a girlfriend? Why is the prince so offended by the theft of the tree? How old are these kids anyway? There’s a lot of background we don’t get here and I found that irritating. Still, the dreamlike sections where Limonadé hangs out with the trees are good, as are the subtle moments when the tree strikes out in a way that’s obviously fantastical without being overbearing. Style isn’t everything, but it means a lot in a week like this one, especially since I at least knew what was happening if your story even if I didn’t really get it.

Hocus Pocus posted:

Somebody finds a set of brothers at the ending site of the shipwreck, one of whom is a simpleton. S/he takes them home and doesn’t really know what to do.

Neither did I, really. Your story was another in this week’s strange trend of stories that thought it was a good idea to wait until several paragraphs in to explain who the characters are. I know what you people are trying to do- start the story in media res to build up interest. It doesn’t work unless you have very powerful attention grabbing prose so don’t do it unless you have an incredibly unique, novel, and obvious concept that doesn’t need explanation. This story absolutely needs explanation- I didn’t even see any evidence that your fool was wise and I had to reread the story several times just to write that flippant synopsis up there. Do something to describe your characters next time. This story was infuriatingly generic.

Starter Wiggin posted:

Guy likes explosions. Then he gets exploded.

On some level I admire how simple your story was to understand. That’s what this week has done to me, make me long for prose that was just clear and comprehensible. The trouble is that outside of the basic concept there’s not much point to your story. I take it you like Joey Comeau- try going into more detail on that quote and why the character identifies with it so much, get some backstory. Discuss his friends, since you went to such an extreme effort to establish that he has friends even though he’s a crazy person. There’s only so much you can do with explosions alone, and your prose just isn’t exciting enough for that to sustain interest here.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

The ball park is going to kill disco and the team mascot is sad. Also he’s being fired after twenty years which is also sad. Then he gets exploded.

Why twenty years? Andy seems to have a strong affinity for disco so it’d make a lot more sense if his career spanned ten years. That way by symbolically killing disco they’re also symbolically killing him. It’s weird that you go to such effort to establish antipathy toward Andy at the beginning of the story and then it just kind of fizzles out. You do a better job building up sympathy for vinyl disco records than you do for Andy, and that makes for a story that’s fairly difficult to process. Again, it’s more important that we know who your character is than that we know what the story is technically about.

kurona_bright posted:

A student at a boarding school/high school/college finishes his final exam, has jitters about it, and wonders why one silly student in class always insists on answering questions she doesn’t know the answer to. Then she tells him.

Your first problem is failing to establish how old your characters are. They have GPAs, are scared of their parents taking away games, have enough free time to have dinner together, and work in the quarter system? I’m not sure how you managed to get all those contradictory details in there at once. The structure is also fairly odd- Chris notices Penny is weird, then she just straight up offers to tell him why. That’s a bit of an odd mystery, since all you ever write here is just exposition. No one actually does anything. Fortunately your story isn’t bad in any real explicit ways- you do keep using weird words instead of “said”. Don’t do that. It’s needlessly distracting. Beyond that this is passable enough writing. Just work better on concept and keeping the proceedings exciting and you should be able to make steady improvement.

Benny the Snake posted:

The King is bad at his job and is also a cuckold, so he brings the jester in to cheer him up. The jester makes a few jokes, the king laughs, and then the king gets assassinated.

There’s a name for the plot twist you use here- colloquially it’s called “the butler did it”. Basically, you’re not supposed to make a low class person the killer in an unprecedented plot twist because in a real life situation these would be the first people to come under heavy suspicion. The trope is somewhat famous for almost never actually being used, because early genre writers (in the much less egalitarian world of our forefathers) quickly realized that this was cheating. And you managed to use it in your story unironically. Luckily your prose is decent enough here, such that I was expecting a much better twist, but the astonishingly bad quality of your ending is such that it’s impossible to see it any other way. Consider yourself lucky that everyone else’s bad writing as much more well-rounded.

Sitting Here posted:

This guy was fated to be a vagabond, then his village is burned down so he becomes one. He gets hungry and finds the King’s orchard, leads a minor rebellion to get the food, then the King pardons him after losing a making GBS threads contest.

So, we got the grimdark tone of a whole village being murdered, then a populist turn as Tarok finds the fruit and starts eating it, then a fable as the King decides to have a making GBS threads contest to prove some sort of moral point. You can have one. I’d go for comedy (which you didn’t do) simply because the concept of a making GBS threads contest is an inherently absurd one that could have really been a good use of the prompt. Forget this boring crap about kings and rebellion and ethnic tension just give me a making GBS threads contest. You describe all this stuff happening but never take the time to savor it in your writing. Plot twist- you, yourself are the king who is making GBS threads out words without actually enjoying the creative process.

Grandmaster.flv posted:

A long story that ends with a dumb meme.

If you want to make it in on time next time, just chop off every other paragraph indiscriminately. Almost nothing you write has anything to do with the (stupid) point you’re trying to make. It’s all fluff. I’d give you more detail but you were late and your story was bad and long and I didn’t have to read it so gently caress you.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Get Silly (105 words)

When Alan Livingston Clown College expanded into a postgraduate institution, everyone laughed. What use was clown philosophy in the age of cable news? What use was clown espionage in the age of the CIA? What use was clown engineering in the age of drones?

That all changed when prankster postdocs developed the Balloon Bomb. Under the guise of an advertising campaign, Clown College graduates negotiated with city halls, piled into airplanes, and crossed all their silly wires. When every city in the country was simultaneously bombarded with a wacky colorful attack, nobody was laughing. Until the real army came in, then it was pretty funny.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Nethilia posted:

You'll get your quick paragraph crits over the course of the week, and if you want longer ones you can ask after they're up. Now someone clean up this mess.

Guess that's me, since you seem at least kind of busy and Seb has a backlog.

Cache Cab posted:

Some murderer or child or maybe both at some point goes on an acid trip and it's not at all clear what's happening or when.

Your special effects are neat, but unfortunately you don't frame what happens well enough to make this at all entertaining without the gimmick. A good gimmick, when readable. You wanted a story that took a turn for the incomprehensible, and that's exactly what you wrote. The trouble is that the integration isn't very good. The final product reads like it was made by a computer- the characterization is random and not particularly interrelated, as is the weirdness emphasis. Yes, I know that real life acid trips have the same feeling- but you're not trying to write a documentary. You're trying to tell a story. Don't just manipulate the format, manipulate us, too.

GlassLotus posted:

A couple of girls get into a fight then one runs away to the cemetery, where the faeries are having a party and one of the girls learns a lesson. Oh and none of it was real anyway so nobody learned anything.

It took me several rereads to see your ending as ambiguous instead of just straight up telling the reader that the story was pointless. The former is good, the latter insulting- pay close attention to properly toeing that line. As to merits, the description of the faerie party was good, and I wondered why you spent so much time on Zoe getting lost when there's a lot more energy in the fantastic stuff. If you want to write about a faerie party, just do that. Don't tie in themes boring normal people and sisterhood just out of obligation. I could tell the difference. If you actually cared about Zoe you would have given her proper characterization and a proper ending instead of the nothing we ended up with.

Turtlicious posted:

A king is having a wedding party, then some thief interrupts the narration, calling it boring. Then the thief and his partners bicker for awhile until they're found out and everything gets messy. Plot twist- they were playing Dungeons and Dragons all along.

It's bad enough you had to make this a Dungeons and Dragons story- those are already almost always obnoxious in-jokes. But you had to make it a twist ending too, which only calls attention to how poorly written all this was. Yes, none of it actually matters because it was just a bunch of nerds screwing around on a tabletop. So what? Why should anyone care what a bunch of obnoxious faux witty geeks do in their free time? They're jerks, their characters are jerks, same difference. It's all equally boring and obnoxious. The first few paragraphs at least try to set the scene and give environment, and then Ragnar gets whiny and the whole thing just feels horribly lazy. Not that your opening was great, but it's nowhere near bad enough for snark to be amusing, or for the twist to come off as anything other than rude and assholish.

Drunk Nerds posted:

Some aspiring screenwriter is trying to get a screenplay read by a well regarded director. She uses the persona Chameleon Man to get close, but when he expresses disgust at the writing quality she decides to destroy his Ferrari.

Were you trying to anti-pander or something? Your hero writes a bad story and has a temper tantrum when somebody tells her it's bad. I don't care if the scumbag director has a teenage wife, I'm going to side with him unless you give me a real good reason not to. Which you don't. Who is Chameleon Man? Exactly what he sounds like, I guess. Or is it a she? The director calls her a bar bitch. Your action isn't engaging, and your characterization is really weak, so all we're left with is a rage story about why nobody understands my totally cool story ideas man.

Chairchucker posted:

In the future bratty teenage girls will have robots to act as bouncers for their totally rad parties.

Well, hm, this isn't really a story so much as a concept, but it's a good concept. At first I thought Gabrielle was a robot, too, given the way she was using SAT words awkwardly, but once you get rolling this is fun stuff. B2000 is plausible as a robot precisely because it isn't particularly consistent. Real machines are like that more than we like to think, and yet it's still plausible that B2000 is looking out for Gabby rather than just acting out a subroutine. Even if your word choice isn't that well set-up, it's often cute (I really liked “friendzone”), so you got smiles out of me. That's always worth something.

Thalamas posted:

The party is a wake for some dead dude who used to beat his wife. He's dead because his brothers poisoned him over his domestic abuse. Then the brothers argue over the moral ramifications, and one of them dies by accident. Then the widow leads an angry mob against the surviving brother. Plot twist- the first dead brother wasn't actually dead, the poison just wore off.

Everyone in your story is in such a hurry to move on to the next narrative thread there's never any time to slow down and actually give the reader a chance to learn about the characters. Heck, there isn't even enough time to set up the twist ending, which once again, turns out to be really pointless. If you want to make a story with Easter imagery, try using characters that also fit the imagery instead of a random domestic abuse love triangle. These tropes are cliched, but they can still be used to good effect in longer form fiction with better built-up. But that's straight up impossible in a story that's under 1200 words long. Cut out about half this stuff and you might have a story with breathing room, though I'd probably still stop short of calling it good.

Gau posted:

Somebody gets their house totally destroyed due to the most epic party ever. He then decides the only way to end it is to murder everyone in a fire.

I want you to consider the fact that you spent nearly every last word in your story describing the terrible state of the house. That's not a story. A story needs something to happen, and we only get that right at the end when Hank decides to destroy the house. Now, never mind that he chickens out. That's a heck of a decision to make and the personal background of that really needs to be explored. By contrast, we really do not need to know the location of all the semen stains. You get some mileage out of decent description but you overplay your hands and make the proceedings boring. A good story needs balance. A good resolution sprouts from seeds planted in the beginning. Keep this in mind next time.

Whalley posted:

A graduate student throws a party so as to prove his amazing theory- that a Partysphere exists which connects us to the multiverse of all the perfect parties throughout time and space.

I was hopeful when you opened up with the arrival of the stereotypical professors, but then you immediately toss all their characterization away and make them wear costumes we don't actually get to see. The trouble with your story is that the premise is exactly as stupid as it sounds. I'm not happy that Kumar got a Nobel Prize. I'm annoyed because nothing that happened made any sense, not even in the realm of fictional pseudoscience, but Kumar's being rewarded anyway because the story has to end somehow. The whole thing feels like a quantum physics in-joke anyway, and speaking as someone with only a passing understanding of that stuff, none of it was funny.

Erogenous Beef posted:

A bunch of embassy frat boys prank their way into World War III

Your story's easy to understand. It has a simple concept, and comprehensible prose. There's no major technical problems here, but I took an immediate strong dislike to it. John is an obnoxious jerk. His pranks aren't even charming- I could buy him destroying the world with a butt fax if he was drunk but there was nothing in your writing indicating this. What's worse, half the story actually takes place after the apocalypse, and I guess I'm supposed to find it funny that the world has been destroyed and the pranksters are now stuck in the aftermath of the fallout. The jokes have to connect for this kind of story to have any kind of impact at all, and I didn't feel any of it.

tenniseveryone posted:

A group of...teenagers? College students? They're playing Seven Minutes in Heaven, and she wants nothing to do with it, but he's an alien.

Your perspective constantly jumps around here, and it gets confusing. Is this from Chelsea's point of view or Reggie's? Make up your mind- especially if you're going to toss in fantastic elements like destroyed worlds and resource plunder. The whole bit about the wind had me completely lost- Chelsea thinking it was a pick-up line about farts made a lot more sense than whatever was actually happening there. Was this supposed to be romantic? I'm not a woman but I'm guessing they aren't generally down for making out with aliens at a moment's notice. Well, unless it's a weird woman. Which could make for an interesting story. That would not be this one.

curlingiron posted:

A bunch of nerds play Dungeons and Dragons in the wake of the real life death of one of the members of the group.

As hokey as the premise is...actually that's not much of a problem, because your story addresses it. While your characters aren't given much detail, they react plausibly to the game, especially to the appearance of their dead friend's player character. I really enjoyed how, even if I didn't know these people, I got a very good idea of their overall relationship from James' letter. It's actually quite touching. The idea was a bit of a tweak, given that the theme was parties, but the effort was well worth it. In a week filled with parties that were the stuff of legend for typical epic stuff, you made one that built its foundation on something a lot more meaningful. That's how you won.

Entenzahn posted:

A delightful cake entices a small child to eat him. Because only the birthday boy deserves cake.

I always wondered why children are so insistent on starting fires. Dumb children. And cakes. Oh cakes why do you have to be so delicious stop tempting me. While your story was obviously intended to be comedy (and works quite well on that level), it's the way the themes work on a universal standard that really makes it effective. Maybe the boy didn't learn anything, but I learned why it is that we always have to keep our eyes on small children at all times to keep them from killing us all. There are good universal themes at play here- something that was lacking in this week's stories, which gives yours a fair amount of heft.

Bushido Brown posted:

Anthropological aliens study Earth, then destroy it, because it's their culture or something.

So Klaxxor doesn't want to destroy the Earth, but he's a giant weenie so he does it anyway. And I guess I'm supposed to feel bad because I live on Earth and he just killed me for no reason? If you're trying to tell a disturbing story about well-meaning people doing evil things because their culture said so, don't make them aliens with ridiculous names. That would have destroyed any pathos you were trying to build up. Not that you had any to begin with. Klaxxor is just too wishy-washy for his angst to really mean much of anything. I'd be a lot more interested in a story about his buddies. A funny story, because for pity's sake, there's aliens with beer pong here. Talk about misuse of essential story elements.

kurona_bright posted:

This guy going off to college is moping because his best friend won't be coming too. Then he has a talk with his dad and looks to the future.

The premise is fairly generic, and your prose is below average. A lot of this is just awkward phrasing. There's plenty of background detail but none of it is relevant. We only get to real story territory when Robert starts talking to his dad- up until then we're only vaguely in Robert's head at all. Is the idea here that he's thinking of boring, inconsequential stuff because he's trying to distract himself from his impending separation from Chris? Because all it does is make me feel bored reading a story where nothing is actually happening. Work on your technique- the story structure's not great either, but it looks pretty good relative to the other offerings this week.

The News at 5 posted:

This guy goes to an old friend's wedding with a gun in his hand. Then he shoots himself but I guess it was a blank even though it made a loud noise.

I think you're laboring under the assumption that thrillers are entertaining because we like to guess how they're going to end. This is incorrect- mysteries are fun because we want to know why it ends a certain way. And you never actually do anything to explain Paul's motivation. The little information we do get doesn't explain his bizarre behavior at the end. For the most part you just write about a wedding where one of the guests happens to have a gun. There's no sense of heart, urgency, or excitement to anything that occurs here. Motivation is essential, and it needs to be telegraphed well enough that the reader isn't left guessing.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

The world is ending and two lovers at opposite ends move toward resolution in the center, becoming one as the universe smashes together.

I want to rant at you for using that format- my computer's screen wasn't big enough for the verticals, and I had to tilt it, too. Fortunately my irritation was mostly ameliorated by the poetic writing, which the format does a lot to reenforce even if it's a giant pain-in-the-rear end to read. It was a wise decision to leave out the interpoints. We see Dylan and Marie in their loneliest, darkest hour, and then everything's all right. We don't need to see how this happens. The greater theme is about being alone and them being together, just as the planets, too, collide together. It's effective stuff.

nickmeister posted:

A community group that has something to do with taxes has a party at the beach.

I'm pretty sure something happened in this story but I'll be darned if I have any idea what it was. I'm not even sure who these people are, or what their relationship with each other is supposed to be. Al likes Alayasha even though she's a lot younger than him, and that's all I got. If there was some sort of context maybe I could bring myself to care about these people, but without it the story's just incomprehensible. Your prose is good enough that I can understand that something is happening, but in this case that just reminds me that nothing is happening and I'm wasting my time with this.

Maultaschen posted:

A realtor attempts to sell a future house to human aliens, but her plans are foiled by the dastardly United Nations and she gains superpowers.

Oh how I wish this story was as funny as that synopsis makes it sound. You took all these weird and absurd elements and turned them into an extremely banal story about an optimistic realtor working in less than ideal conditions, and then it turns into a revenge fantasy that stops right when the exciting stuff happens. For the ending to make any sense, it has to somehow relate to who Belinda is as a person. Is she willing to sell homes to possible terrorists because she's desperate to help her family and will sink to any level? Then make her depraved. Make her connected to the family. Don't make her show us a bunch of random future tech. And foreshadow the political situation somehow so this doesn't all come out of nowhere.

PootieTang posted:

A religious guy impresses a general with his personality, then goes somewhere to meet someone.

I have no idea what actually happened here. Your main character never actually says anything but everybody else stands around him and says stuff that I guess is relevant somehow. It's just plain weird how you make a story called The Messenger and then never actually tell us in vague terms what the message is about. You had plenty of words left over- wait, no you didn't, since the appearance of opium cut your word count in half. Although you're still over the limit, and I'm not so hot on your interpretation of what constitutes a party either. Get a flash rule next time. You need more clearly defined direction.

Starter Wiggin posted:

I'm all giddy because an eclipse is happening and my crush wants to spend it with me. But plot twist I am a vampire and will do the same thing with other guys.

I liked your use of the second-person. It really gets the story into an emotional feeling, which is appropriate for romance. Except this isn't romance it's vampires. Why are there vampires. Is it because you thought the story needed a twist? It didn't. We connect with characters based on who they are, not the arbitrary labels assigned to them. You figured out that much just by using second-person speech in the first place. Technically I am the main character in this story, and I can feel it. I can understand that kind of life experience. I don't understand the need to suck blood from the person I'm snuggling with. That could work as a metaphor, but allegorical stories are pretty much the worst possible place to use second-person narration, which is all about keeping things relatable. I'd say either ditch the narration style or the vampires, but your writing is good enough that the combination isn't totally bad.

Kaishai posted:

A prisoner is forced to cook a feast for the enemy banquet because she's good at her job, She poisons their food and makes them all go crazy.

This is the rare story that actually needs less characters with names- the impact here is all about Ronya's suffering and Ronya's revenge, and naming the enemy soldiers detracts from that. It's not like they're sympathetic and we're sad that they die- these people have almost no characterization. Focus on Ronya- make this about her knowledge of herbs, her memories of better times, and her quiet determination to take revenge on her captors. There's elements of this that shine through, but the short length of the story and the emphasis on mechanics rather than emotions weaken the impact. Reorganizing the events here along those lines instead of sticking to simple beginning to end chronology might help as well.

Kalyco posted:

A couple of priests on gravedigging duty meet up with a doctor and a bunch of gypsies, and come up with a scheme for a border run.

Your whole story was a set-up to a meme. Fortunately this is a very old meme that works in the historical context of the story, so we're fine, but only because it matches up with Judd's characterization. I guess. Frankly speaking all I have for motivation is that John dislikes war (because it's inconvenient), Judd is jolly, and everyone else just wants to avoid getting killed. For an escape story this isn't so bad- but the emphasis needs to be on the escape, not the backgrounds. Tell us the kind of people your characters are by having them act. As it stands your story is decent because there's no major contradictions, so you do at least have the advantage of having flaws that work to the benefit of your writing.

leekster posted:

A family prepares to spread ashes out over the lake. They succeed in doing so, and then dive into the lake with the ashes.

I had to read this story several times to figure out what the relation is between all these characters. You have four men with generic names, three in the generation after the dead guys, one of them being a grandson. Cut down the number of characters- two should be enough. And actually discuss why the glitter is so important. There are a lot of conflicts here but the glitter is the only one that actually matters, going by the ending. Give us a bitter angry fight between two grown men over whether or not to use glitter while scattering ashes, and make it sound important. A good story only needs one idea. Don't clutter it up with unnecessary characters and backstory.

QuoProQuid posted:

An angel enlists a nun to help him get to a sweet party via carjacking.

I suppose Mary Margaret (why did she need two names?) reacted to Raphael's request about the same way any of the rest of us would. That's a problem- just the fact that she's a nun should give the woman a different interpretation of events, and here you have her being fairly blasé about everything. She doesn't even ask the big question- why Raphael chose her, why they're even doing this at all. “It looks cool” isn't a good reason, at least not with this kind of prose. You focus on detailing the basics of the story events than actually making it sound exciting. At the end Raphael has to tell us the entrance looked cool, because you didn't write a cool sounding entrance. When working with an outrageous concept like this, show don't tell is a pretty essential rule.

Walamor posted:

In the future, it is forbidden to look at plants.

Yeah, I guess there was a plot in here about a guy who likes looking at plants, and this woman who likes stealing plants, but really, the star of the show here is the setting, which really needed better explanation. Felix doesn't actually explain what he's doing there until the story's practically over, and as far as I can tell Sam is just a wacky thief who teaches him that it's better to have plants than to look at them. Most of the story is an extended action sequence with no dramatic stakes. Partially this is a result of generic characters, but the absence of a coherent well-defined setting is the real culprit here. Make me care about a future where there's little access to plants, or don't bother writing about it.

Jeep posted:

This eccentric guy died wanting his funeral to be a giant drunken church orgy. Now he's dead and gets his wish.

I'm sure there are people in the world with such a bizarre goal for their funerary rites. It's too bad I don't know why Sanders wanted that- you constantly make comments to the effect of “he sure was a strange guy!” but never actually explain the specific level of strangeness that would get at this request. Irritatingly, you almost get there, when his daughter starts with the stories, but we only get the vague outline of one rather unimpressive one. The rest of this is just beer and piss and vomit and sex in the church and, you know, outside of shock value, there's nothing here of any worthwhile substance. There's no philosophy. Just a bunch of boring sodomy with no conflict. The fire doesn't count- I have to care whether any of these people are going to live or die first, and most of them don't even have names.

Sir Azrael posted:

This woman dumps a guy and tells her friend they're having a party. Then they go to this other guy's house, do some small talk, and prepare to summon a demon.

The minute something is actually about to happen in your story, you end it. Good grief. Your dialogue is horribly wooden, to the point I was expecting a twist that they were robots or the living personification of nature or something. Don't do something as silly as introduce friends named April, May, and June unless you have some kind of thematic excuse. Also, don't expect your reader to care about their relationship drama unless there's some kind of background to make it interesting. These people are not funny or interesting. They just do all this dull unremarkable stuff, to the point that the demon thing isn't even a twist. It's long awaited characterization and context that needs to be at the beginning of the story, not the end.

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

There's so many cannonballs flying around everywhere that nobody can get any sleep.

I like Goran. He has a personality. Too bad the guy's only in one scene and we have to spend the rest of the story with Pavel, a guy so whiny I can't sympathize even when he's about to die in the middle of an unexplained war. If you want to go dark, you need to write some kind of backstory that makes the reader feel bad about characters dying, if only because they were interesting and will no longer be able to entertain us. What we have here instead is just a bunch of bad stuff that happens without rhyme or reason. If there's barbarians at the gate, make them terrifying. Here they're just too distant, too unknown to make any kind of impact. Give us fear- then we could empathize with Pavel even if he didn't have a personality.

Hocus Pocus posted:

George Bush is a lonely old man who spends his days painting. Then he meets his other famous friends.

I'm not buying Bush as the quiet reclusive type and his buddies as frat boys. Not because of political reasons, but because everything about this is so generic. If you're banking on the context of us all knowing who these people are to make the story work, don't. Remove the political element and this is just a story about a bunch of old people who...didn't even have glory days, actually. All they talk about is hurt feelings and boring angst. There's almost no characterization here at all. I have no idea why you felt the need to write a story about a bunch of famous people, but if there was a point, political or otherwise, to any of this, I missed it.

Noah posted:

A woman has had two lousy birthdays in a row, and her life hasn't been going so hot outside of that either. Her current birthday utilizes elements from both the previous ones to tell a story.

I have to give you credit for telling a story at least. I can see how Margie's had a rough enough time that she can't recover, and the ending does let the woman resolve her twin betrayals, sort of. I really wish you'd focused more on Margie's mental state, because you throw in a lot of details, like the size of the goons or the alienation of Margie's family (even though she has guests?) when the focus really needs to be on the woman's depression. You get that general tone down pretty good at least, accentuating it well by having her snap at the people who love her while still holding an undercurrent that they probably don't deserve her love in the first place. Not that she knows that. You don't keep a perfect focus, but it's still pretty decent considering the format.

Fumblemouse posted:

A policy writer who hates his job and the people there prepares to hatefully rip into everyone as a final parting shot at his retirement banquet.

It's clear immediately that Arnold has suffered a lot of meaningless indignity in his life. But just when it's obvious what he's been planning a curveball shows up and completely alters the story's direction- not in a way that makes much sense. I like how your story is dumb in a way that clearly takes into account why the prompt had a penalty for non-alcoholic drugs in the first place. Even considering that, though, some foreshadowing would have been nice. On balance I still liked the general idea of taking a revenge fantasy trope and screwing it up randomly. Your story only needed one chuckle to succeed, and you got that much from me at least.

Djeser posted:

A bunch of dumb teenagers keep getting themselves killed because they mistake a shadow beast for evil.

I'm assuming they're teenagers anyway, since that's the genre trend you're making fun of here. Not exactly the most original concept, but well executed nonetheless. You make the deaths funny, obviously preventable, and yet so unremarkable that it's easy to sympathize with the shadow beast's general defeated tone. It's easy to second-guess her actions here, but she's probably tried every possible permutation by now and gotten about the same results. Your interpretation also handily explains why people in this universe are so genre blind- to any outside observer these kids just got drunk and killed themselves. Good work here.

crabrock posted:

A couple of girls who are definitely not lesbians and don't even like each other that much get into a party game that ends predictably and obnoxiously.

The narrator (who really needs a name) is that nice mix of person who doesn't like parties, goes to them anyway, then remembers why she doesn't like going to parties in the first place. Lilly is a great friend for her, too, since without Lilly the narrator would otherwise avoid doing social stuff and then we'd have no plot. The whole lesbian angle is a good one, because that is absolutely an annoying assumption people make way too often, but the reference you use is a little weird. Ellen, really? Didn't they stop making that show last century? Regardless, this is a good story that hits all the right beats.

Phobia posted:

A bunch of sixth graders have a tea party, but one of the girls is having a tough time at home so she's not playing correctly.

You really need to start with the whole sixth grader thing. At first I couldn't tell whether these were actual snobs, a girly tea party, or a girl playing by herself and all of this stuff was in her imagination. Also, if you're going to make them this old and actually call your story The Last Tea Party, there needs to be some sense of finality, like the girls aren't going to be doing this much longer. Aside from that, this is a decent enough story about kids growing up, learning the true value of friendship because parents are terrible. Work on your background description and setting the tone. Those are your main weaknesses. You do pretty well as far exposition goes, but that tends to go down better in narration than in dialogue.

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at 01:28 on Apr 23, 2014

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Oh good. Judges with actual credentials this week.

I'm in.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Essay Question (1128 words)

Describe in 300 words or less how you've overcome adversity.

Lisa hated this question. No matter how many complaints she sent to the admissions board, or how many different organizations she became a proctor for, there was always this question or something about as worthless. It was a plague that had infected all mandatory teenage writing.

This year my grandma passed away.

She groaned. Of course, a dead grandma. What other problems could an upper middle class kid have in this day and age? This was what Lisa hated so much about the prompt. It demanded that kids develop an inaccurate narrative of their life for the sake of being uplifting and inspiring- to trick themselves into thinking they were interesting.

I didn't know her very well. I'd only met her twice, when I was a toddler and a few years ago on a cross country trip with my parents.

Why did the admissions board even want this garbage? Were they trying to delude themselves into thinking they were giving opportunities to the poor, the people who suffered from actual adversity? Newsflash- they wouldn't write about this stuff. Not to a bunch of strange white people who have no idea what real adversity is.

The only reason it even mattered to me at all was because of something my aunt said about her last year.

The best reforms in regards to disadvantaged applicants were the subtle ones. Like formatting the application so that the names only came at the end. An obviously ethnic name like Shantae could sink an applicant even to an open-minded woman like Lisa. Racism was subtle. It wasn't going to disappear thanks to feel-good narratives.

My aunt said that my grandma was from a different time. Back when my grandma was a little girl, they didn't have applications like this.

So it's a sob story about the bad old days, before there were opportunities. How in a roundabout way, the grandmother suffered so that's practically the same thing as me suffering, right? Lisa was disgusted. These explorations of the prompt in particular were the absolute worst.

Back then, my aunt said, people went to college because they wanted to. Because they were smart. If they wanted to live life and work first, that's what they did.

Never mind, this one's going for irony. It was a decent enough attempt to be original, but then, that was only in comparison to all the other stupid cliched ways to look at the prompt. Lisa had long since learned that irony was passe- a sort of fake wit used as a crutch by people who were convinced they thought outside the box.

But today being yourself just isn't good enough. My aunt sorts through college applications every day, and she says no one actually wants to go to school.

Interesting, Lisa thought. A direct appeal to the proctor. Few applicants were this bold, but still, Lisa knew better than to be snookered in by this kind of direct personal appeal. Besides, aunt, grandma, whatever- what did this teenager actually believe personally?

And that was when I realized that she was right. I didn't want to go to school. But my entire life for the last three years has just been preparing for that.

Lisa rose an eyebrow, now fully intrigued. She couldn't think of any applicant who had tried to get into a high tier school by discussing how much they didn't actually want to go to school. Well, at least she hadn't read an essay like that this particular month.

Even though I didn't know my grandmother very well, at the funeral I realized she was probably one of the last people who actually had the chance to live her own life.

At this point Lisa's mind wandered back to the prompt. As stupid as the question was, it was pretty clearly defined. This was about how the student had overcome adversity. Where was this going? So far this was just a recitation of other people's lifes and beliefs.

During the ceremony, I couldn't help myself. I ran out and cried. I found a room all by myself and cried for an hour.

Yep. Predictable, as usual. Lisa sighed. She supposed this was a better written essay than average, and it at least managed to get her attention. That would be worth a decently high marking, but mainly because all the other submissions were even worse.

And today, I wrote this essay. I don't want to go to school. I think I'm making a mistake, but I'm going to stand up to all that fear and go forward.

Good, good, Lisa thought. The main thing the admissions board cares about is making sure there's no dropouts anyway. That was the dirty secret behind the whole process, after all- give out deep sounding essay questions to see which students coincidentally had traits that correlated with high retention.

My Aunt Lisa said I should write from the heart, and I promise that if you accept me, I'll push forward just like this and never give up.

This was a solid ending- nice closer, the right inspirational cliche. Lisa admired how she managed to get this process down to a science at this point. Sure it seemed cynical, but these were just teenagers anyway. It's not like they were capable of quality writing in the first place.

From the pen of Alyssa Johnson.

Lisa stared at the laptop, and slowly closed it. Her first thought was that it was rather gauche for the girl to write down her name at the bottom of the essay, and claim it was from her pen when the application was digital. Of course that would be the first thing Lisa thought of- not the fact that she'd been reading her own niece's application.


Lisa lay on her couch in a drunken stupor, the aftermath of an impulsive binge. Of course, she remembered every event in startling detail. No one in the family had any idea why Alyssa had suddenly become so inconsolable over an unknown grandmother. But then, Lisa wasn't sure she knew even now. She told Alyssa everything there was to know about the application process. About how to be cynical and genuine at the same time. If Alyssa had followed Lisa's instructions perfectly...this was exactly the kind of essay she should have written.

The funny part was, Lisa always complained about the cynicism in the process, and the bad questions practically designed to encourage it. But she had never realized how far the disease had gone. An entire generation of kids succeeding based on the power of their bullshitting- and what was worse, an entire generation of adults who didn't know how to read a heartfelt story any other way.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

What the..? How old are you? Somehow I wasn't expecting that to be what the Blood Queen of Thunderdome looks like. Hey, that gives me an idea.


Write a story inspired by the phrase Blood Queen of Thunderdome. Preferably before watching Sitting Here's brawl entry so you can laugh at how wrong you are.

100 words. No signups. Submissions last until the next prompt is up.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Djeser posted:

theblunderbuss, I am hateful enough brave enough to offer my candidacy for judge, should you find no more-qualified volunteers.

I think the more-qualified volunteers make a point of slinking into the shadows whenever they see us do that. Just a guess based on personal experience.

Anyway, let's see 9AM British Monday is...5PM Korean Monday? Sweet, I have a crazy weekend but this is totally manageable. I'm in.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

A Hero's Tale (905 words)

"We don't need to hear that story," said Billy, with the usual embarassment a middle school student has toward his eccentric father.

"Yes we do," said Jerry, with the usual curiousity a middle school student has toward facts others clearly don't want him to know.

Mr. Lee sat down, relieved to take the pressure of his leg, which limped as always. He was also quite pleased with himself for having found another willing captor to his favorite wartime story, the one about how he got the big medal. There was only so long Billy could keep a friend without ever inviting them once to his home.

"It all started in the thick of North Korea," Mr. Lee said, with a strong and deliberate grandeur flowing through his voice. "I did all sorts of spy work there, but it was all just boring bookkeping until right at the end, when I got the plans for their nuclear missile program. That's when I had to make my escape- by cutting straight across the Western mud flats of the demilitarized zone."

"We really don't need to hear this," Billy said, tugging at Jerry's arm. But he was summarily ignored.

"Why'd you go that way?" asked Jerry.

"It was an accident, honestly," Mr. Lee said. "There was a bridge, but I thought it'd be too easy to spot me, and the water was low. Then I got to the other side. And that's when I had to climb through the mud.

Mr. Lee pulled up one of his pant legs, revealing a hideous grey and red morass of baked dirt and blood that went all the way up to his thighs. Jerry's eyes opened wide in shock and awe.

"You should have seen it before the armys docs had it cleaned," Mr. Lee said, with a chuckle, "It was the most grueling physical experience of my life. The mud was much faster than quicksand, even if it only went up to my belly button. Halfway there I was already exhausted. Then it got worse."

"How did it get worse?" said Jerry, leaning in ever closer.

"A guard spotted me, and made pursuit in the mud," Mr. Lee said, slowly and with deliberate breath. "It was bad enough just fighting nature. Now I had to dodge bullets too!"

Mr. Lee pulled up a sleeve, showing off a pair of nasty looking bullet wounds. Jerry winced, even as he inevitably said-

"Can I touch it?"

Mr. Lee nodded. Jerry prodded the wound, thoroughly grossing himself out while Billy shook his head. Mr. Lee continued with the story.

"Now, I had a gun, but the mud had gummed it all up. But I'd taken a specialty in thrown weapons, so I came up with a plan. I waited until the wind was just perfect, then I threw the gun a hundred feet, right at the guy's noggin!"

"Why?" asked Jerry.

"I was traveling light," said Mr. Lee, "but the mud was almost killing me. So I figured that if I could knock the guy off balance, he'd sink into it completely."

"Did it work?" asked Jerry.

"Oh yeah. He drowned to death right there in the mud," said Mr. Lee. "And he knew what was going to happen too. He screamed. You want to know his last words?"

"Look," said Billy, "I really think that's-"

"What? What?" Jerry said, all the more excited.

"Please! I don't want to die!" Mr. Lee cried out suddenly, with true pain and terror in his voice.

And just like that, all the oxygen was sucked from the room. Jerry leaned back, suddenly confused.

"I'm not an expert on watching people die," said Mr. Lee, "but drowning to death in the mud? That's pretty terrible. I dream it happens to me. Every night. You ever had a dream where you're sure you're going to die...uh...what was your name again?"

"Jerry," Billy said. Jerry was at this point shivering.

"Right, Jerry," Mr. Lee continued. "The guard had a name too, you know. I don't know what it was but I think about that. About how he used to have a family. I became this huge legend for that story, got a medal for it, and a full pension. But it turned out the North Koreans had a backup copy. I can't walk straight, I look like a monster, I have to get electroshock treatments for my depression, I'll always know for the rest of my life that I murdered a man in the worst possible way. And there wasn't even any point. But I did get a great story out of it. And isn't that all that matters?"

Jerry stood up silently, staring into space. After a long moment he spoke to Billy, but did not face him.

"I better go home," he said quietly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

And with that he shuffled out of the house. Billy stared at his father, waiting until Jerry was out of earshot.

"I wish you didn't tell that story every time I bring someone here."

Billy said this very calmly, but he was still frustrated, and slammed the door to his room shut. Mr. Lee listened to all this and, with his usual limp, stood up and moved toward the liquor cabinet. He took out an old bottle of scotch- his only real friend in the world.

"Me, too, son," Mr. Lee said, in between swigs. "Me, too."

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Huh, three dishonorable mentions in five attempts. Maybe this is a sign that I should stop posting stories in Thunderdome. Nah, that's just silly. I'm in.

Phobia posted:

No it is not a manga holy poo poo why does everyone keep thinking I'm bringing anime into TD I don't even go into adtrw.

It's probably the avatar. Yeah. You think you got problems.

My present: an unwanted avatar

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

1387 words
presents used: all of them

Amaterasu opened and closed her new hands. They made disgusting squishy noises. The rest of her new body wasn't much better- she wore a t-shirt that didn't fit over her enormous hairy belly, and pants that were cross-stitched to make them look like a giant double-barrelled laser gun. And worst of all she was in America- so He might show up at any time. Not much time for her to start an evangelical revolution. Where were her cultists, and why did she have such a poor quality avatar?

She looked around the tiny messy office. There were unfinished grocery lists, broken headphones, and half empty bottles of water littered around everywhere. No, wait, not water, clear lube. Didn't this guy ever throw anything away? Next to the window was a mirror facing the door, half covered with still shots from the last several Eurovision competitions. Next to that was a poster of an angry elephant with a monocle and top hat saying- "crush the Tea Party!" Piles of journals were piled up on the desk, and a brief glance through showed that most of them were variations on the John Galt speech. This guy was "creative" enough that she could transform these images into reality- but no more directly useful powers.

Amaterasu looked at the summoning artifact with resentment. The spell wasn't even written in Japanese- just an archaic long dead dialect. Why would anyone read nonsense hiragana out loud from a book of Japanese folktales? Looking around some more, Amaterasu spotted a pile of old VHS tapes with Japanese labels. The words were...not worth repeating. Then she picked up an old photo album labeled "memories with Mikuru-chan". Amaterasu took out a picture of her avatar with his arm draped around an anime girl in a bikini. That explained that.

There was a sudden rap at the door. Amaterasu looked through the peephole. There was a man on the other end wearing a trenchcoat and fedora while smoking a cigar.

"I'm a P.I. looking for a missing person, a one John Wayne Rockefeller. Went out for groceries a while back. His totally hot supermodel wife and billions of dollars miss him."

Amaterasu backed up a few steps, making a point to knock a bottle of lube near the door. There was just one problem with that ridiculous story.

"Detectives don't actually wear fedoras anymore you idiot," she said.

With a whizzing light and a thunderous crack the door blew apart. When the smoke cleared, White Conservative Jesus stood at the ready toting two huge submachine guns.

"I can smell another God from a mile away," Jesus said. "That's imperial units to you devil dweeb. America's too cool for your metric bullshit."

Jesus shot the bottle of lube into the air and turned it into good booze right as he grabbed it in his hand and drank it down in a huge gulp.

"I'm here on a quest for a divine rear end, boy," Jesus smirked. "Your rear end!"

"Well, then," said Amaterasu, slapping her giant smelly butt, blurping out a fart, "come and get it!"

Jesus lifted his hand for a miracle, but suddenly saw that Amaterasu's rear end was jiggling. It was hypnotic. Nothing but asses. Women’s asses. Men's asses. What's the difference? Grab them and slurp and rub their hair all over baby use the clamps and film it to the grindhouse blurry VHS so hot all down there-

"No!" he screamed, dropping the guns. The bullets tore down the poster and broke the mirror. "This abomination! Thou shalt not swap cocks!"

"That's what happens when you're so smugly predictable," Amaterasu said, smiling.

In her pride Amaterasu failed to notice that an enraged Jesus had picked up a broken shard of the mirror. He promptly jammed it into Amaterasu's rear end, determined to end its sexiness once and for all. Amaterasu staggered back, grabbing the remains of the poster as they fell out the window. Amaterasu made a quick incantation and managed to bring the monocled elephant to life just in time for them to land on its back.

Now on the street, the elitist Republican straw elephant bellowed out (in elephantese)-

"Crush the Tea Party! Arrooogah!"

With Jesus and Amaterasu in tow, the elephant tore off down the street, trampling every living creature into roadkill on the path to prosperity. Amaterasu managed to get the mirror shard out of her rear end and used it to reflect some sunlight in the elephant's eyes, slowing down its rampage. In the process, Amaterasu saw her hideous pimply face next to an LED guitar, and shed a tear for what she had become.

Jesus, meanwhile, had worked a miracle (by using his cell phone) and summoned the fire department, who tried to hose the elephant down. Unfortunately the elephant was immune to any form of attack by the public sector. Only a grassroots movement could take it down.

Thinking quickly, Jesus transformed the water into good booze. The elephant's behavior changed immediately- being a Republican abomination, of course it would be compliant if given delicious slushy fluids from the public sector to not get anything done.

Jesus and Amaterasu leapt down to the street.

"What you foreigners don't get," said Jesus, "is that the Founding Fathers were infallible! Even more infallible than me! So of course America will be perfect forever and ever!"

The firefighters hooted and hollered in appreciation. Jesus quickly turned around.

"Stop tempting me!" he screamed. Now all he could see were their throbbing fireman bodies grinding up against fire poles, headphones blasting gay music but then the grinding broke the headphones but those gay firemen didn't care they'd grind with broken headphones too they'd have sex with the broken headphones and stick them up-

"Shut up!" screamed Jesus, letting out a divine shockwave. The ground cracked beneath as they all fell into an abandoned quarry. Amaterasu saw her chance. If she could just get a little coal, then Amaterasu could use it to power the cross-stitched laser cannon on her pants, since according to the second thermotransluscent law of anime physics, any time a God gets access to any power source, it can be used to do anything because magic. She dug away- a single black rock would do.

Jesus glared at the firefighters with unrestrained lust. They ran away in terror as Jesus turned to face Amaterasu.

Amaterasu found the coal and quickly summoned the laser gun from her pants, victoriously transmuting the coal into anime energy. She fired the energy blast- or tried to. Unfortunately Amaterasu had reincarnated into a fat repulsive anime nerd. Apparently she had to redefine the parameter protocols in order to let anyone else aside from a cute magical girl use the cannon, and there just wasn't any time. Jesus was almost upon her.

Desperate, she took out the photo of the anime girl being hugged by her avatar. Jesus was almost upon her now, his holy hands wobbling. Amaterasu them finished her summoning spell, proud and triumphant at her grace under less than ideal circumstances.

She then saw that the object summoned was a body pillow. Stupid magic, only doing exactly what it was told without regard to context. The fluffy object plopped uselessly to the ground. Jesus lay his hand on Amaterasu's head.

"Cast away from these hollowed grounds! By the power of me, I command it!"

Amaterasu could see the life of the man she had possessed. So many magical girls. So much Eurovision. And all that porn combining the two. The horror. Her mind swirled as Amaterasu's grip on reality began to fall apart.

"That's what happens when you mess with America," Jesus said, proud.

He walked away, planning to continue letting all know the good gospel of wealth, guns, and abstinence. But Amaterasu had a vision. She saw Jesus meet the firefighters again at a gay bar. She saw him grinding, and laughing, and turning literally every liquid he could find into wine. There were slushing noises. The gays that Jesus hated so much right now, well, they would soon become his greatest supporters. The religious fervor was pure and untamed, and they were loving every minute of it.

The drunken elephant, now out of booze, was ready once more to crush Amaterasu's profitless body. She welcomed death's embrace. Better luck next reincarnation.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

You know what, sure. If anybody wants to give me a crit in kind, go ahead, but that whole story was a gimmick and I'm frankly a little surprised it didn't get a DM. And I'll take requests too why not.

Also why did you all use elephants the other two choices were perfectly good. Was it because you had to wait a whole 17 hours before another option showed up? At the risk of my own sanity I'll preemptively volunteer to judge the next round just in case Meeple decides on a similar format.

CommissarMega posted:

This guy in a fantasy setting talks like that rear end in a top hat philosopher everybody knew in college and takes way too long to tell a simple story about a dragon and a princess even though he claims to be practical. Also twist ending beasteality.

This is not a story. This is a ramble. Almost nothing actually happens- the narrator just describes how the things that did happen prove what a cool guy he is for thinking outside the box and it's really annoying. You somehow managed to write shitdidnthappen.txt in a fictional story about dragons. What's worse, the only one of your elements that's properly integrated into the narrative is the missing person. The blind philosopher anecdote? Contributes nothing. The phrase? Just a lazy stupid jab at normalcools, and practically the only content you have is a rephrase of that dumb idea. Your main character is detestable, but the writing never admits it, which made me really, really dislike your story.

Starter Wiggin posted:

Plubert the Elephant wants to have fun but elephants aren't allowed to have fun they're too big and clumsy. Then he meets a crocodile and they all live happily every after.

You basically wrote a children's book story without the children's book. Which isn't bad, exactly, but it really makes the whole product kind of scream "this only works with pictures when read to a small child!" Your elements are well-integrated, and the prose is appropriate- except for the pure and untamed line. That diction is so obviously tonally dissonant from everything else in the story it's really pretty embarrassing. Also whatever joke you were trying to make with that subtitle, I have no idea what it was supposed to be.

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. posted:

João reads postmodern literature about sex and reminisces about the good old days when Bertha the elephant used to squirt all over him. Then he finds out Bertha's being put down, assumes a conspiracy, and beats the crap out of a white guy until João gets a chance to feed Bertha alcohol.

Look, I hate the white man as much as anybody but I don't think they're killing the elephants of our childhood because (???). And even if they were murdering our elephants João's a bit of a pretentious weirdo. If the narrative wasn't deliberately structured to make him look heroic I'd have assumed he was some kind of caricature of oversexed pseudointellectuals. And again with the "pure and untamed" line! Why did so many of you pick this? It sounds ridiculous. You can't use it as catharsis. Well you could, it would just require a lead character that doesn't come off as a twat. Also, name him in the first paragraph. Don't wait until the fourth one for no reason.

RunningIntoWalls posted:

Some guy had a bet with his wife that he once played hockey. He goes to the attic to find the tape. He does so, wins the bet, then goes back to the attic because memories.

Your main problem here is that you start in the middle of the action for absolutely no reason. Who cares if George is looking for a hockey tape? What's at stake? And if we're supposed to care that he wants to go back to the attic and look at more stuff, it would help if you gave us some idea what it is that he's feeling so nostalgic about. There's all this relevant context that you could be giving us, but you chose not to because...? Seriously, this was only 530 words. There was no excuse for this story to have such a skeletal structure.

Thalamas posted:

Cora's longtime friend just died and she is an uncooperative wreck. By the way she lived a totally interesting and cool life. Also therapy is for losers just have your daughter come do dictation for you.

I know that probably wasn't the moral you were trying to get across here but it's really difficult to read your story any other way. Both Cora and Susan are these totally empowered women who live confident independent lives, except that Cora's apparently not very good at coping with death. I'd expect someone her age would be used to it by now- could it be that she had a very special connection to Tia? That would have been a lot more relevant and interesting than capsule summaries of their random adventures. You're so focused on the resolution you never really set up much of a conflict. The ending, as a result, is pretty empty.

Djeser posted:

This guy decides to follow Sir John on his quest for the divine rear end on a lark. Eventually he realizes this was a pretty dumb idea.

I kind of get the feeling you had about the same revelation your nameless narrator did. The divine rear end sounds like a good concept, but there isn't really anywhere for it to go aside from the place you took it, and it's just not much of a ride. A story from Sir John's perspective might have been more interesting- at the very least it would have been incomprehensible and weird, which is really about the only kind of the story the divine rear end deserves in the first place.

God Over Djinn posted:

Charlie leaves the prospect of factory work to join the circus. This was a pretty dumb idea.

I was a little disappointed that Charlie wasn't more outraged at PETA for destroying his honest livelihood. Characterization like that would have made his moment at the elephant sanctuary a lot more humbling. Really, that should have been the focus. The whole thing about his running away from home and eventually reconciling with his mother just isn't that interesting, mostly because there's no context- we start out at the grocery store and then, well off to the circus we go! The problems in the narrative are mostly due to a lack of space, but then it was your decision to write two mostly unrelated ideas into the same story.

Cheneyjugend posted:

Dragons worldbuilding Muototsu worldbuilding blackfire worldbuilding.

I'm sure it's been said before and will no doubt be said again, but please don't fill your short story with worldbuilding. You already don't have much space to work with. Get us characters we can care about, and have them do stuff. By the time something actually happened here I was so thoroughly bored that I just wasn't even paying attention anymore. You prompt this in the second person, but who is this story relevant to? Do I live in the same world as Tenno? Think about your reader, and whether they'll actually care about what you write, before you actually put it down. Also, whatever psychological horror was supposed to be in here, I missed it.

Kalyco posted:

First there are dreams. Then it's the military. Then archaeological stuff. Then an elephant.

I'm genuinely not even sure how each of your segments is supposed to relate to one another. We're jumping around this stuff practically at random. If I knew who John or Mina were or what they were doing maybe I could care about what happens to them but I don't. You keep a lot of information about the proceedings secret but that just makes it boring and confusing to piece together when you finally start to explain things. Don't use an opening like that unless you're actually going to go to the dreamworld, because otherwise it contains no relevant information at all.

Phobia posted:

This farmer thinks wolves are destroying her fields but it's actually Oni which are like Zaibatsu. Plot twist it was actually an elephant yokai.

This would be a lot more engaging if I had the slightest idea what Oni, Zaibatsu, or yokai are. Given the context of the story it really doesn't sound like this would be that difficult to explain- just a sentence would do it, and go a long way to alleviating the confusion. You spend a lot of time explaining why the Western dude is a shaman but almost none on stuff that actually matters to the procession of the narrative or its eventual conclusion. Also, I genuinely have no idea how this is supposed to involve humor. I don't see anything here that even looks like the vague outline of a joke, at least not in written form. Visual would be different, but you're not drawing a picture you're writing words.

Grizzled Patriarch posted:

This guy and his wife go out for a vacation at some old cabin somewhere. He goes to the grocery store and hears about a missing girl. Plot twist they're in a horror movie.

In order for a story to use psychological horror there has to be, you know, fear something. We only get the impression that something bad will happen right when the story's about to end. Why did the killer kill the girl? Why does he want to kill Francis and June? Who are Francis and June and why do we care about them? So many basic questions completely unanswered, and yet you still managed to use up almost the entire allotted word count. No wonder you got a DM.

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at 09:47 on May 13, 2014

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

OK, I preemptively volunteered in the hopes of running some quality control, so before any of you get any bright ideas I'd like to make something clear-

I really, really am not in the mood for twist endings right now. Maybe it's just because of the bad quality of stories lately, but it seems like a lot of you are running poo poo narratives under the assumption that once the big reveal comes at the end, everything before it will seem clever. It ain't gonna happen. Maybe you'll be the special snowflake genius that actually pulls it off, but I wouldn't bet on it. Use a twist ending at your own risk.

By contrast, here's an idea I'd like to see more of-

Sitting Here posted:

stories about ultimate, embarrassing defeat becoming a cathartic triumph (if only in the eyes of the protagonist)

Exactly one person used this (not including me, but I used all of them so I don't count). And guess what. They got an Honorable Mention, only a hair away from winner in a week filled with lovely stories. Let that sink in for a moment. Ask yourself, "what would the judges rather see? My twist ending that's probably going to suck or something that requires actual creativity and narrative integration to properly pull off?"

edit: possibility for bonus points if you can incorporate the broader theme The Wind Rises has about how creativity may be awesome but at the same time it can be easily used to power death machines. Do not interpret that as carte blanche for terrible scifi worldbuilding.

double edit: The above does not contradict Meeple's instructions. Again, use your creativity. I like metaphors. A death machine can quite literally be anything. It doesn't even have to be a physical object.

Meeple posted:

The inherent tragedy of the conflict between an engineer's artistic integrity and the commercial reality of wartime industry is optional (that means discouraged).

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at 01:48 on May 14, 2014

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Just as a point of clarification- I'm not blaming the judges for the bad story quality. It's you writers who are ruining everything. Especially me. I had to protect the sanctity of the Thunderdome by not letting myself poo poo it up with another bad story this week.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Don't hold back crabrock I want to be angry when I'm writing everybody's crits.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Entry for my Brawl with crabrock. Did I screw up the high noon thing? Sorry seb. It's either post now or be late tomorrow.

Oh, and preliminary judging report from the Far East- for the most part the stories were not so bad that they made me angry. I'm tentatively considering this a good week.

Unqualified Advice
(746 words)

Friar John had just sat down for his afternoon copyscripting. It had been another tedious day of prayer, instruction, and simple meals, but it was the copyscripting that really let him get in touch with his spiritual self. He was so engrossed in the work that he almost didn't notice the arrival of his old pupil. But then, David had slammed the door open rather violently.

"Hello there," Friar John said with a smile. The lad had really grown up over the last few years. His clothes were torn and his features rugged. David now sported a vertical scar over his left eye. Friar John was pleased to see that his former student had found the life of adventure he had so dearly wanted.

David threw a large scroll on the floor. He stared at Friar John with intense hatred.

"What does it say in the scroll?"

"You weren't supposed to remove it from the temple," said Friar John.

"Answer the question!"

David clenched his fist and punched the hard stone wall. It cracked visibly and David's knuckles were bleeding. He did not notice the pain.

"Believe in yourself," said Friar John.

"'Believe in yourself'!" yelled David. His eyes took on a menacing, insane look. "Four years! I wasted four years of my life looking for this scroll! Do you have any idea what you've done?"

"I only wanted you to be happy," said Friar John. "You desired a life of adventure, so I gave you a quest. And surely, with all the hardships you've faced, you know now that you're capable of anything."

"No, no, no!" shouted David. Spotting a nearby stool, he grabbed it and broke it into several pieces off his knee, leaving fragments all over the floor.

"I wanted that scroll so I could fight the Empire," he snarled. "Every day they produce more machinery, gather more territory, threaten our homeland and everything in it! I told everyone I met that if we could just get the scroll we might stand a chance. People gave their lives to help me find this scroll. Lords lent me the aid of their private armies. And all of this was so you could tell me a fairy tale? Why!?"

Friar John closed his eyes and took a breath. However, he did not stand up.

"David, be honest. Did you really think an old scroll would help you defeat the Empire? You desire conflict and the thrill of battle, and I gave it to you. Given time the Empire will crumble of its own accord. Meanwhile all we can hope to do is enjoy life on our own terms. And you have been happy haven't you?"

"Happy?" said David. "One kingdom threw me into a lion's den because I said one word of their holy prayer incorrectly. A pirate crew conscripted me for a year and I had to gamble my way out. I almost lost my eye trying to gain favor with some idiot who insists on fencing duels without masks! All for that drat scroll!"

"I know you too well David," said Friar John, shaking his head. "Any other life would have bored you. You always did want to be a hero."

"And what am I supposed to do now?" David said. "The Empire comes even now to kill us all and we're not ready. Our chance has been squandered."

"Do what the scroll says," Friar John replied. "Believe in yourself."

David stared at Friar John, no longer with anger, but with a sense of sheer emptiness. He fell to his knees, laughter mingled with tears.

"I used to think you were amazing," David said. "I had this fantasy that I would come see you again and we would take on the Empire together. But you don' don't even have any idea what's happening do you? Do you even know how to fight?"

"No," said Friar John. "God instilled within me a gift for helping others unlock their potential. But I? I'm satisfied tending to this monastery."

David's arms and legs felt limp, but he forced himself up and walked out the door. He took one last glance at Friar John, then decided not to say anything.

Friar John went right back to work. He was never quite sure how good a job he was actually doing, copying these ancient texts, written in a language he didn't understand. But then, it always was the process that mattered to Friar John, not the results.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

sebmojo posted:


Well that was unsurprising. Time to step away from the judge's table until somebody starts begging desperately again. Or I actually win something. Whichever comes first (take a guess). Way to stay on the ball, Meinberg, already having two lined up. I'm in.

Crits will be up later today.

Some Guy TT fucked around with this message at 01:18 on May 21, 2014

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Crit time~

ReptileChillock posted:

This goon commits notary fraud. Then he does a bunch of airship stuff that doesn't really have anything to do with notary fraud.

Your first section is completely unnecessary. The second and third are more than enough to establish that Tobias is a weasel and there's probably someone out there somewhere who wants to toss him in jail. And I actually did like your plot trajectory for the most part. Guy's a dick, gets what's coming to him. You obviously didn't think much of this story but you can get quite a bit of mileage in Thunderdome just by writing a narrative simple enough that the reader can easily understand what's happening.

Meinberg posted:

An imprisoned soldier dreams of going back home and summons the god of wind to come give him a hand.

I was a little lost as to the whole idea of the god of wind. How did Frerick summon him? And why did the god show up? Ignoring these points you've got a pretty decent yarn here. The dude's in a pretty classic revenge type situation. He's a little bit cocky, but not too arrogant given that he's in jail and had to ask for a god to help bail him out. I did like the god character, even if I wasn't totally clear on what he is. Frerick's sacrifices aren't really sacrifices at all but the god doesn't care, which makes the ending feel all the more appropriate. You utilized your story elements pretty well, making for a well-rounded effort with broad appeal. That’s how you got the win.

Cheneyjugend posted:

A bird is hatched from its egg. Then it does stuff.

First person is not a good place to start from here, at least not with this kind of diction. Birds aren't known for being articulate, and baby birds especially shouldn't have this kind of descriptive ability. Even ignoring this your story runs into the problem of it just being a bunch of stuff of no apparent consequence. Try watching a zoo cam for an hour and write about everything that happens. After about ten minutes you'll be bored out of your mind. There has to be something magical or wild in stories about animals or they just come off as horribly pointless.

God Over Djinn posted:

Guy's falling down. Gets all meta-philosophical about story structure.

I can't help but feel like I'm being pandered to. Well it worked. I couldn't help but giggle at the parts where Simon is musing about the kinds of things he should be describing as he plummets to his inevitable death, only to realize there's not really a whole heck of a lot a person can actually do whilst falling to their inevitable deaths, incapable of accomplishing anything. It's absurdist humor that plays a little loose with the prompt but it's funny. And isn't that what really matters? I mean it won’t win you anything with a judge that doesn’t like the joke but I enjoyed it.

Bushido Brown posted:

A couple of kids attempt to build a helicopter out of flies.

The main problem with your story is diction. From the moment I saw the word halteres I had trouble thinking of these two as anything except eccentric engineers. The word choice is too advanced- you're using at minimum a middle school vocabulary but this is an elementary school age adventure. The idea's cute, but that only makes proper vocabulary all the more appropriate. They should be having dumb arguments, mispronouncing words, and otherwise just being obviously dumb somehow. As written the idea is played just straight enough that it never really takes off.

theblunderbuss posted:

This guy loves the sun so much he wants to marry her.

Yeah, uh...what else is there to add to that, really. The reason the Icarus myth is believable is because the guy's a dumb kid who hasn't really thought through the fact that the sun will kill him. Your story is about a guy who knows the sun will kill him and spends every waking moment trying to make out with her. Maybe it's technically an anthropomorphization, but still, I have no idea how to react to that. Comedy I could see. Psychological horror I could see. But this reads like a doomed romance, and the only reason those stories are interesting is because there's at least some pretension the lovers can get together somehow.

Entenzahn posted:

In a dystopia, a man and his girlfriend could go to this totally awesome place with forests and rivers and cool natural stuff. He just needs to build an airplane. Things don't go as planned.

I enjoyed the worldbuilding here precisely because there's so little of it (ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION EVERYONE ELSE). You describe all we need to know briefly and with subtlety, so the story gets right to the important stuff of showing why Jacob wants to leave. But at the same time the tower isn't really that bad a place. Technically this might be a twist ending but there's just enough doubt put up about Jacob's thought process that it actually comes off fairly organically. I'm sure Jacob does know the dystopia's theory for what happens if you try to leave, but at the same time he's choosing to ignore it because it's not in his dream. Maybe that required a little too much behind the scenes thinking on my part but I liked your overall trajectory.

Jeza posted:

This woman wants to break the speed record because her great grandfather did it. Also nobody does speed records anymore because faster than FTL technology exists. And there's lots of other technical language here I didn't care about because I'm not an engineer.

Your story is technobabble. I don't care if these words actually mean something to someone with the right technical education. From my perspective, this is Star Trek filler. Do you know why people like Star Trek? It's because at its best the show explores why people want to boldly go where no one has gone before, and your story has exactly one line explaining Ellen's motivation. I guess people also watch Star Trek because they like to complain about the poor quality of the bad episodes. Don't aspire to be that kind of Star Trek, not unless you're going for comedy.

Kalyco posted:

A woman has a lovely boyfriend. Also she has these weird dreams about falling.

I'm not sure I buy the parallelism here about a bad boyfriend being the same thing as heavy gravity crushing you against the floor. Mostly because I'm not sure how infinite falling could be considered a good thing that hurts in the short-term (which is how to analogize it to a break-up). The opposite, really. Oh, the good news- the fact that I'm criticizing this on a metaphorical level means I understood what happened in your narrative and what you were trying to accomplish with writing it. It's doesn’t make for a perfect story but it works. Your imagery is slightly off and I didn’t think the suicide subtext was spelled out that well compared to other suicide prompts this week, but of the ones that went with that theme yours was the best written. That’s how you netted an Honorable Mention.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

Billy gets a new toy called Uplink. But Uplink is not a fun toy so Billy ends up sending him on a suicide mission because that's how Billy rolls. Then Uplink joins up with the evil toys because either Billy's into really complicated narratives or the toys are real I don't actually know.

I'm guessing the toys are real because Billy doesn't show up after the launch but that just begs so many questions. Is this supposed to be like Toy Story? Then what's supposed to happen next? Your cast of characters is literally a set of plastic action figures. I'm not going to be able to identify with them on a character level so you at least have to give me something to care about in terms of plot. But then you drop the metanarrative halfway through and introduce more characters I know nothing about and just, how am I supposed to react to that? This is another for the "I have no idea why you wrote this" pile.

Gau posted:

This kid was born with literal wings on his back so everybody makes fun of him. he tries to feel better by flying but people with wing disease can't fly. Also therapy is for losers.

Why does Jamie Ballard get two names when she shows up in only two sentences? I didn't even notice the (actual) name of your character until the second read through. That kind of thing is really distracting, and got me off on the wrong foot. The rest of the story didn't make me feel much more confident. He's depressed about the wings, dismissive about treatment and seems to dislike the idea of suicide even though practically speaking he's OK with killing himself? You really needed some kind of subtle edge to make the visual of a mopey kid with wings believable, and the story just ends up meandering fairly pointlessly. Not a whole lot of fun.

Nitrousoxide posted:

This guy named Muledy is a pirate. He robs some ship because he wants what's in the safe, but the captain's an rear end in a top hat and lets the pirates kill people instead of just giving them the safe combination. It turns out Muledy was after the medicine to save his dying kid.

This is almost a twist ending, except that there's no context about who Muledy is and what he wants in the first place. This is worse than a twist ending, actually, because if you were messing with my expectations there would at least be a point. What’s worse you never get around to explaining the captain's motivation at all, which only makes the ending that much more inexplicable. You know what might be more persuasive than killing unrelated crew members at random? Muledy just saying "I need that medicine for my dying kid you fuckwit." When a solution that obvious is staring us right in the face you need a very good reason not to use it. And you didn't provide one.

Tyrannosaurus posted:

The narrator's kind of a dick, likes killing animals for fun and bragging about it. Then he goes on a safari to hunt the most dangerous game of all- small children.

I wanted to like your story. The opening's really solid, and got me thinking, is he going to get comeuppance? Will he learn a lesson? Is the mau mau going to be something crazy and weird? You have all these amazing possibilities for concept, and you end up making it a cartoonish story about child murder. I'm really more disappointed than angry, because it's clear you could have taken this a more interesting direction but I guess a better idea didn't really take form. All I can say is- when in doubt, don't make your story stupid and depressing for no reason.

crabrock posted:

A former test pilot is feeling cranky because he's retired now and there's nothing important for him to do anymore. Then his new neighbor's dog won't shut up. Drastic measures are necessary.

For the longest time I thought you were just wedging the prompt into this story arbitrarily with the whole test pilot thing then we get to those last few sentences and there it is delivery landed mate. The obnoxious dog isn't exactly a groundbreaking trope but you handle it with cranky style and fun. Chuck is the kind of former test pilot who doesn't need a retirement party- the dude knows exactly who he is. This is a solid effort done in mainly by the fact that it only really deals with the prompt obliquely as a punchline. It’s a good punchline though.

Phobia posted:

An anti-Italian racist tries to commit suicide, but stops at the last minute when he notices there might be witnesses. Decides suicide isn't so cool after all. Or maybe that was just smoking.

I didn't really like this story at first glance. Theere was a lot of suicide this week and this is a pretty generic narrative. On further reflection, while your story wasn't that ambitious, it did accomplish all the basic essential goals outlined in the summary. The main problem is that you don't have any real sparkle- in a week that had a lot of good imagery, you don't really describe anything, and your main character is a cipher for a typical liberal arts nice guy. I guess I'm glad the kid didn't have to watch him kill himself, but beyond that I didn't really care that much.

Malefic Marmite posted:

Somebody waiting for a bus looks at vultures for awhile, thinking about his childhood. Then the bus doesn't come and the vultures don't do anything.

"Did not write a story" is a recurring problem in Thunderdome, but you earned loser just by the sheer quantity of nothing you managed to stuff into a thousand words. We don't even know why the narrator is waiting for a bus, let alone why we should care. In fact, you don't even mention the bus at all until halfway through. Until then it's just vultures and childhoods and what? There's a connection? If either the vultures or the childhood figures had done anything I might have been able to squeeze some sort of interpretation out of it but as is your whole story is just a giant pointless question mark.

Benny the Snake posted:

Kid has a terrible day and his parents are always fighting at home so he tries to kill himself. Then he sees a sick bird and changes his mind.

I actually like your basic concept here. School sucks, home sucks, the world is totally unfair. It's the suicide that jumps out of nowhere and makes this weird. Just running into the bird should have been enough to make the kid decide that life maybe isn't so miserable after all. Remove that one element and this would be a perfectly serviceable story- that did not match the prompt so sorry you didn't fool anybody there. Ignoring that the other main issue here is that it's just too wordy. You could chop off half the words and still get just as good a sense of how Jeremy feels like a failure, and that would have given you the room you needed to integrate flight into the story in a much more meaningful way.

Nethilia posted:

A girl gets wings because she lives in a universe where weird stuff showing up on the body is a parallel for puberty. She hates her wings but then she saves a kid and decides that wings aren't so bad after all.

I don't know why there were so many angsty stories this week, especially considering the loose connection most of them had to the prompt. That being noted, your story works, on a basic level. The fantastic elements are relatively subdued and work primarily to service the story rather than just being sheer wackiness in and of themselves. Personally I'd think snake hair would be a heck of a lot more annoying than wings but what do I know. Your story is well balanced in these regards, but balance alone does not a good story make. Jordan's generic enough that it's difficult to get excited by her problems, and the somewhat random nature of the Distinctions makes it hard to pull a decent theme out. It's not a bad story- it's just not a good story either.

sebmojo posted:

Angels are being caught because (???). Henry takes his daughter to see the angel because (???).

As far as I can tell you were so enamored with the concept you didn't actually take the time to explain any of the context for this. I read this several times and I still can't answer most of the basic questions about the setting. This removed me so much from the work that when we get to Henry and Rab having it out over implied crimes, I don't know how to relate it in the context of the setting. Ditto with Catherine and the angel. On a pretty fundamental I just didn't get anything that happened here. The quality of the prose is the only thing even making the story readable.

Bad Seafood posted:

This kid is taking shaman instructions from the douchebag shaman king. He then undertakes a test that involves the prompt.

It took me way too long to figure out whether Tsengri or Kojiten was supposed to be replacing the shaman. Be careful with your pronouns. They can be really confusing when establishing context. Speaking of which, your story is really lacking in that department. Why does Tsengri want to be a shaman? Is it because of his dad? We get more exposition about Kojiten than we do about Tsengiri, which is horribly worthless when the latter is the character we're supposed to care about- the one that actually does stuff. If you're going to send a character on a vision quest, it's pretty important that the reader be able to understand why or else the imagery just comes off randomly.

kurona_bright posted:

A woman has made an impulsive decision to start life over again in Seattle because her current life sucks. Then she meets an old friend at the airport who magically solves all her problems.

You've got a good narrative voice and the dialogue's all right. The main thing holding it back is the simplicity of the concept, and how the conflict is solved almost the minute it shows up. The context for the situation should really go in the first paragraph, the second at latest. As written the stuff about Natasha's past life pretty much comes out of nowhere. It's all right to dribble out a little bit at the time, as the conversation goes, but by not establishing the scene right away you ruin an excellent chance to get your reader curious. I also probably would have liked a story from Jane's point of view better. From Natasha's perspective nothing that happens relates to her actions, making her less a main character and more just someone who has things happen to her.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

The Day Of A Dozen Suns (737 words)

Jereme crept out to the surface. Already there were eight suns out. Suns or moons- whatever. The name "Day of a Dozen Suns" had been around since antiquity and wasn't meant to be taken literally. Regardless of which celestial object was which, Jereme could feel the intensity of the heat. The slime trail of her ooze evaporated almost as quickly as she covered ground. But there was still time. Jereme wasn't worried. Yet.

The others were all underground. Too terrified to leave, even though they, too, professed a desire for immortality. The lines on Jereme's bulby mass moved, forming into a shape that resembled a stick covered with mud being jammed through the head of the far-off Eyrios constellation. They were hypocrites. An idea alone could not be immortal. The Eyrios sign was a popular one, but nobody remembered the protoplasm who created it.

Jereme had a better idea. Nine suns now. Still plenty of time, but she had to keep the pace. Had to find the metal. No one else cared about metal. There was little point when they could mold themselves into any shape desired. There were others who thought they could become immortal by abusing these natural laws. The breeders. Seeking out who they believed to be the best, brightest stock, hoping to commit themselves to memory forever.

Jereme knew better than that. She could barely recall any of the experiences from forebears more than three generations back. It was just a matter of coding, really. Only so many memories could be inherited. That was what breeders never stopped to realize. They might produce a dozen progeny, but there was no guarantee that the survivors would retain any useful, memorable information. Not when the parents died so soon after reproduction, the quest for immortality complete.

Ten suns. Jereme could feel herself dissipate, the rays of the suns now piercing into her organs. She stayed focused by thinking on the breeders. Their problem was that they had to die to produce offspring. They never realized the true extent of their failure. They had to have faith that the next generation would figure things out on their own, when every generation from before had failed in that goal.

Jereme's bulby mass moved into the shape of a crescent dwarf. She had found the metal. Working as quickly as she could, Jereme devoured the dark substance. The pain was excruciating. It wasn't just the fact that her kind was not meant to eat metal- there were eleven suns now and the black surface was unforgivably hot. Jereme's insides were burning. But this was not enough to stop her. Not yet, not when she was so close to achieving immortality.

Jereme reared herself up, attempting to transform into a large lizard beast, knowing she would fail. There wasn't that much time left, and the twelfth sun was already coming into light. But that didn't matter. She'd done all the calculations herself. Even a failed transformation would create a truly unique, beautiful shape. Jereme could feel it in the way she separated- a giant wave, at first moving straight up, then into a bent curve that nearly made a full oval. The ends of her flesh separated into several sharp points.

She was dying, but not evaporating. Her essence was merging with the metal. It had bent just enough, digested just enough, that it responded to her will. The colors of her translucent body merged with the bright hot glow of her last supper. Though Jereme could not see the effect, she had already calculated that it would be a dazzling sunbow. Simply trying to see six colors in a sunbow was considered dangerous and insane- and Jereme had immortalized a dozen of them.

Jereme held on to the last few pieces of her consciousness, and through sheer force of will, made her bulby mass create a picture of a dozen suns, all shining their godly, magnificent light on the misshapen still life of her deformed sunbow. Jereme would be the piece of art that changed the world for all eternity. Generations afterward would gladly give up their part of the natural life cycle to become divine beauty incarnate. That sense of joy Jereme felt at the moment of her death- that was better than any copulation. She would live forever- with devotees more loyal and sacrificing than any petty offspring.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Ace Detective Dick Dongle Goes To The Store
55 words

The cashier saw the name on Dick Dongle's credit card and giggled. Next time, he had a plan. Dick Dongle tossed on a greatcoat, carefully set in his monocle, donned a fashionable homburg, dobbed some tobacco into his chillum and held the malacca proudly out front. No one would laugh at a well-dressed ace detective!

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

I'm gonna go ahead and roll the dice and just take whatever the first result is.

Apparently this is what my computer thinks I want to see. Dumb computer. I'm glad this is the last day we hang out.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Can I have the other one? I haven't looked at it.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

That Nagging Voice (737 words)

Eric could lose the cops if they chased him, but he would never get away from what happened that night. Mostly because that damned conscience wouldn't shut up about it. He turned around. The cops were, in fact, chasing Eric. No time to argue with his conscience now.

That always is your excuse isn't it?

Eric ignored the nagging voice and knocked aside some trash cans. Two of the cops tripped down, faces covered in garbage. Eric smirked. It was the slippery stuff too. If they were lucky there wouldn't be any needles. The others stopped short, and Eric slowed down to a jog. He thumped his chest and flipped the bird to the remaining cops, giving a joyful smirk all the awhile.

You weren't smirking a couple hours ago.

From the back a cop barreled through. He was a big, tall muscular motherfucker- and he clearly was on the track team somewhere because he jumped over the trash cans like they were nothing. He faced Eric down, cracking his knuckles.

A real tough guy, Eric. Just like you.

Eric dropped the grin and backed into an alley. No way out except a tall fence, and no time to climb it. Now it was the cop's turn to smirk, thinking he had Eric dead to rights. Without a word Eric leapt into the air, bouncing up the alley walls in an elaborate wall jump until three bounds later he was over the fence. The cop just stared, mouth open and dumbstruck. Eric gave him a fist and ran off, ready for a good night's rest.


Can we talk about what happened now?

Eric tried to shut the voice out, but he couldn't even sleep. Finally he gave in.

"So she's a hosed-up junkie. So what. I did what I could. I'm done."

Bullshit. You swore to your mom you'd get her straight and you just gave up.

"gently caress you."

You'd like that wouldn't you? If you could just run over me with your Parkour crap and talk it up with your friends what a cool guy you are? But I know the truth. You're such a big loving pussy you can't even man up to save your sister.

Eric kept his mouth shut. He didn't want to listen to this anymore. But then he didn't have much of a choice.

Turn yourself in.

"Are you crazy?"

Aileen wants to be a junkie prostitute because she wants to be independent. Like you. You're way too cool to turn yourself into the cops. They'll lock you up, they'll give you a phone call. Use it to call her. Tell her about how you need her clean because you're going through rough poo poo. Maybe she'll listen.

Eric bit his lip and gritted his teeth. That stupid conscience would keep him up all night if he didn't do something. Grumbling, he pulled the sheet over his head, knowing that he'd head to the station in the morning.


"Do you know this guy?"

The officer shoved a photo in Eric's face. Those goofy earrings, that birthmark under the chin, that medium-length not quite hippy hair. Yeah, he knew that idiot.

"Sold him weed maybe a month ago," Eric said. "Haven't seen him since. Think he got another dealer."

The officer sighed. He gave a wave of his hand, looking down.

"All right, you're free to go."

"What?" Eric said. "That's it? You had a whole platoon chasing after me last night and that's all you wanted? You don't want to arrest me?"

The officer looked up, a quizzical expression on his face. Eric hated that look. The guy was looking at Eric like he was a total moron.

"You been under a rock kid?" said the officer. "People are dead."

"Yeah but I've done other stuff," Eric said, insistent, annoyed. "Like my sister. I got her all-"

"We don't care about some loser junkie," snapped the cop. "We're trying to get a timeline together. Now get out."

Eric cringed. He wanted to fight this guy just out of reflex, assuming that his sister was a junkie like that. Even if it was true. But besides that, even Eric knew better than to start a fight in a police station. He stepped out.

"Happy rear end in a top hat!?" Eric yelled. And this time, that nagging voice lay silent.

Eric rolled his eyes. He'd tried. Whatever. gently caress his conscience. There was cool poo poo to do.


Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

Shameless Forums Reference
64 word

The webcomic actor put on his makeup. Such a wondrous pantheon of creativity, the Internet! Countless possible permutations of ideas, from every author imaginable, and lo, today he would put on the face of an amazing unrealized world. He stepped out on to the stage. And suddenly he was a horse. A very well hung one. The actor groaned.

"Again with the gay centaurs!"

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